A PIECE of Hampshire's aviation history has recently been lost.

The redevelopment of the former airfield at Worthy Down continues and within the last month or two, the Officers Mess has been demolished.

This was where residing personnel, including film star Laurence Olivier in 1941, lived, ate and socialised.

Richard Hall, a keen aviation researcher and photographer, is currently writing a book on the history of Worthy Down and was lucky enough to get these photos of the Mess before it went.

The 57-year-old, who has lived in Hyde, Winchester all his life, was invited to lunch there to celebrate the airfield's 100th anniversary.

He said: "When I first realised it had gone I was walking past the airfield.

"It's a shame, because it was 102 years old and held a lot of history of interest to a lot of people. But I suppose times move on and a lot of money has been poured into this site.

"Fingers crossed, the book I'm working on will gather quite a lot of attention. I'm not sure when it'll be release as I'm working on a few other things."

​The airfield at Worthy Down, Kings Worthy, opened in late 1917 for use by the Royal Flying Corps, but it is uncertain if the Mess was there at this time.

Its first resident unit was the Wireless and Observers School but upon conclusion of the First World War, the airfield’s continued existence remained uncertain.

Over the years the Mess saw names pass through who would go on to be written into history .

Squadron Leader Arthur T Harris (58 Squadron) and Wing Commander Charles F A Portal (7 Squadron), both served together at Worthy Down in the mid-1920s, where they flew Vickers Virginias.

In 1938 Worthy Down transferred to the Fleet Air Arm and became a training school for telegraphists and air gunners, changing its name to HMS Kestrel.

Later in the war Laurence Olivier, star of Hamlet and Wuthering Heights, arrived to fly with the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as a sub-lieutenant pilot. He joined actor Ralph Richardson.

Worthy Down is still in military hands and is now a tri-service training facility.

The recent changes have seen nearly all of the former airfield buildings removed.

All photos: Richard Hall/www.airshowspresent.com