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History of 'the strongest link'

Updated: Jul 31, 2023


Author: Alex Martin

Publisher: Unicorn, an imprint of Unicorn Publishing Group LLP

ISBN: 978-1-914414-15-2

Cover price: £40 (US $60, Canada $70)

Biggin Hill is world-famous as a Battle of Britain fighter station, but that period only accounts for a short time in the life of the airfield. While Churchill described it as “the strongest link” when referring to its vital role in the defence of London during both world wars, the airfield has a history that predates World War 1 and continues today with an expanding role in both business and heritage aviation.

Alex Martin has produced a substantial book which is a lavishly illustrated chronicle of the 116 years of the life of the airfield. In seven chapters (leaving the door open for another two lives out of the nine in the title) the book covers the birth of the airfield and continues through the inter-war years and World War 2 before taking the reader through the post-war changing roles of the RAF and the civilianisation of the ‘air’ part of the station which brought the birth of the flying clubs and the genesis of the air shows which were to become another source of fame for Biggin Hill.

The authori then covers the more recent years, following the departure of the RAF and the development of the airfield into London Biggin Hill Airport. Through a combination of well-informed text and carefully selected illustrations, he weaves a picture of Biggin Hill through the good and not so good times which will well inform readers not so familiar with the history of the airfield and will also revive memories of personnel and events for those much more aware of just what Biggin Hill means and how it has re-invented itself over the years.

As ACM Sir Michael Graydon says in his Foreword to the book: “Every airfield or station has a personality. It arises from its location, its task and the people who lived and served there. Today, many lie derelict, re-brigaded or built over; but the men and women whose lives were so closely bound up with their base will remember a special relationship with great affection.

“There are just a few airfields that have thrived on a wider stage. Biggin Hill is at the head of this distinguished group.”

Nine Lives is a well-produced book which will appeal to all ages and will become a significant further point of reference in detailing the history of this famous airfield.


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