Why Is There A Harrier Jump Jet Parked In South London?

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 77 months ago
Why Is There A Harrier Jump Jet Parked In South London?

On a recent trip through the south London hinterland, we glimpsed a most unusual sight from the train window: a Harrier Jump Jet, parked in what appeared to be a ramshackle yard beside the railway line. What on earth is it doing there?

The truth is actually a little on the mundane side. The jet is a Harrier GR.3, serial number XZ130, and is located at the 1034 (Surbiton) Squadron Air Cadets base in Tolworth. It was one of the first series of jump jets, and was designed and built in the 1960s at the Hawker Siddeley plant in nearby Kingston. The plane was brought to Tolworth in 2005; rather disappointingly, it was lifted into its current position by crane rather than flown in. A newsletter (PDF) from the 1034 Squadron has further information on the aircraft and its reason for being there, while a better photograph of it can be found in the Surrey Comet.

If you want to see it for yourself, the jet can be glimpsed from the train between Tolworth and Chessington North. It can also be spotted on Google Maps. It's also visible on Bing Maps, as our top image shows, although only on the 'Bird's Eye View' setting: if you switch to the Aerial View, it magically disappears.

The Harrier isn't the only piece of military hardware parked on the streets of London. The good burghers of Bermondsey have played host to a Soviet T-34 tank since the mid-1990s; reputedly, the tank's gun is pointed at Southwark Council's head office.

Photo of tank by Eugene Goh, published under a Creative Commons 3.0 License

Last Updated 23 September 2011

James Lush

I live on the street with the tank (Page's Walk) and also heard the story about the gun turret. It's not true though, as it's been rotated a couple of times since I moved in December!

Lindsey Berthoud

There's a great little video about Stompie the Tank in our archives.

Ben Myring

There are at least a dozen tanks and other military vehicles
mysteriously parked in an open-air warehouse that can be seen from Limehouse
Cut: http://www.flickr.com/photos/m...

Mark Walley

Famously (and also for once it seems in actual fact) the guns on HMS Belfast are aimed at Scratchwood Services (the London Gateway ones on the M1 inside the M25). It's to show the range of the weapons or something like that.

Guest

For a moment I thought the placement of the aircraft in a South London suburb was in honour of JG Ballard: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T...

Anon

We are very proud of our 'ramshakeld yard' which is actually a full parade ground which we work very hard to maintain. We are also very proud of our aircraft which is a magnificent and invaluable teaching aid for the youth of the area, and the PDF you mention was written by those very talented cadets.

Mundane 'Old Fart'

If Dean thinks that treating the youth of the day to something interesting is 'mundane' then he has a great deal to learn!  Perhaps thats why he posts mundane columns in th eLondonist when he knows little about what is actually in or around London itself!  perhaps he should write for the Beano!!!

anon

We have just been informed that our beautiful Harrier is being removed from our parade square -We are all devastated to see her go.