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Saturday, 20 August 2011

West Malling: Kings Hill - Durello Avenue.


What, pray tell, compels all this? It's an odd business, no question, but one of many itches that, I feel, needed scratching revolves around the former West Malling (pronounced "Mawling", apparently) Airfield, scene of much of Magical Mystery Tour, and visited by "your" (why is everything "your" these days?) tired/emotional writer of drivel during the glorious summer of 1985, before the dread redevelopment.
It's been a source of regret, somewhere amongst the middle of the by now enormous pile of regrets, that I didn't take more photos that day (particularly given that the ones I did take were of the wrong thing).
So I felt compelled, m'lud, to return, digital camera in hand, in order to test the assertion in the Beatles' London that the "new roads and buildings have obliterated any sense of MMT orientation".
Using (or mis-using) the wonders of satellite mapping, together with the glorious diagrams in the aforementioned tome, it's still possible to locate the Walrus locales, mainly due to the fact that the developers haven't managed to destroy the surrounding woods yet (Hoath Wood, Coalpit Wood, Not Sure If I Wood, Jesus I Should Be Beaten To A Pulp Immediately For That Which Isn't Even A Wood, and so on, and so forth, etc.).
Thus, Durello Avenue: this is the very spot where the sequence for I Am The Walrus was filmed:


It's now a cul-de-sac, and they were smack in the middle of it (if that makes sense):


The famous blast walls (32 pairs, fact fans), long, long gone, o' course. These were mainly situated on the edges of the airfield, but the one behind the Beatles was directly beyond what is now Durello Avenue, and luck has dictated that the patch of ground thus far remains:


So, to labour the point unnecessarily, here is what's left of the Walrus locations:


Funnily enough, in what seems to be about the right position (re. blast wall), there is the concrete footprint of...something:


Walking on past the houses that can be seen in the above pic, I came upon a patch of undespoiled ground; the perimeter road would have run along to the right. Traces of the old airfield remain here, yet this too is about to be swallowed up by a no doubt horrible business park:


Wandering further I arrived at the edge of the former airfield, a spot now marked by large chunks of something or other:


Clearly these were once part of something else; one would hope an airfield related building, but shurely not the blast walls?
So there we have it. There is still a small patch of MMT in Kings Hill, if one knows where to look. But I wouldn't count on it for very much longer. So it goes.

4 comments:

  1. Great research Sean, that must've been very painstaking! Thanks for continuing to post such obsessive minutiae - I totally get it and sometimes worry about myself. Why do I really hope that those inanimate chunks of concrete are parts of the blast walls? Why does it matter? Sadly, it does...

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  2. Wow that is great I live wright at the end of durelo near the woods so that amzez me thanks

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  3. It most definitely amazes me, and I know why, because it represents a very important, hazy, and innocent time for me when I was a child, gazing for hours at those pictures with that record, as well as the music, etc. I would love to go and visit the area someday...

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  4. I took the time to visit the area of both West Malling High Street and Kings Hill. Doing some Google research before I left, I'm delighted to have captured pics of what was the newsagent that Ringo and John were in at the start of MMT. The National Trust had the foresight to place a plaque outside the shop which is now (don't laugh) a kebab shop called oddly enough 'Rain Grill'. Seeing as The Beatles wrote a song called 'Rain', one wonders if this was deliberate. The readers may also like to know that on the corner of Swan Street, there is a childrens toy shop which was once called E Baldock & Sons. It was here apparently that John bought his hat which he wore throughout most of MMT I believe. As the author says, it would be a good idea to visit the Kings Hill area in particular before any remaining evidence of what once was is gone forever.

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