AN important part of Farnborough's aviation heritage has been saved from the axe after government intervention.
The future of facilities at the former Royal Aircraft Establishment has been secured following a decision to award the site the highest level of protection.
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has confirmed that four buildings have been given Listed status in recognition of its significant historic importance.
The news is a major victory for campaigners who have fought to preserve the buildings.
Building Q121, with its famous clock tower, which contains the 24ft wind tunnel, has been upgraded from Grade II* to Grade I — the highest grade of listed protection in the country, alongside such sites as the Tower of London and Stonehenge.
Another building housing the Transonic wind tunnel has also been given Grade I protection.
The former HQ of the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST) and the earliest wind tunnel building in the UK, Building R52, has been given Grade II Listed status for the first time.
Finally, Trenchard House, the original Royal Engineers' Balloon School and current home of FAST, has been upgraded to Grade II listed status.
FAST member Richard Gardiner has played a key role in the campaign to save the buildings. He said: "We think it vindicates all the efforts that goes back to the earliest days of the government considering the site.
"We have been campaign-ing for ten years and this proves that it wasn't us just making a fuss but that the site really is unique and of historical importance.
"Grade I is outstanding, in national terms there are only a few thousand buildings with that status. It is a unique site," he added.
"Certainly in the UK there is no other site with such a lot of history in such a small area. It's something everyone in Farnborough can be proud of as we've had a lot of support from the community and Rushmoor Borough Council."
Fellow campaigner Adam Wilkinson, of SAVE Britain's Heritage, said: "This is a huge boost for our campaign for the site, sending out the strongest possible message to the site's owner Slough Estates and to Rushmoor Borough Council, who should now finally realise its huge significance.
"We welcome the fact that the secretary of state has seen fit to bestow upon this site the highest level of protection, in line with that granted to other major historic aviation sites around the globe."
When FAST was formed in 1993, there was no protection for any of the historic buildings and all faced demolition.
Now, thanks to the high-level lobbying of SAVE Britain's Heritage, working closely with FAST, no other single aviation centre in the world has such a highly rated protected status.
SAVE has recently produced a study of how the site might be profitably reused while preserving the maximum number of buildings and unique sense of place.
This is available from SAVE free of charge via email (email@example.com) or for £6 for a hard copy.
FAST hope to open their own museum of aviation artefacts at Trenchard House later this year.