Grocery & Local Produce Store (Building 131): aka Chorley Lodge Scout Hut


raf beaulieu airfield grocery store chorley lodge scouts

During wartime there were a number of buildings erected at RAF Beaulieu to make the airfield effectively function as a small town. It had all the amenities you would need for over 2,000 staff to live and work in relative comfort considering the jobs they had to do.

One such building was the grocery and local produce store that stood near the water tower on what is now Roundhill Campsite.

On the wartime map it was listed as building 131 (Type 601/800 / 12878/41). In the 1945 map image below you can see its location in relation to the water tower (136).

roundhill campsite map from 1945
The grocery store (131) for Communal Site 1 was on the left hand side before the water tower (136) if you are walking into Roundhill Campsite from the East.

If you walk this route today you can still see the concrete base upon which it would have stood.

The evidence is to your left hand side as you walk into Roundhill Campsite, from the an easterly direction away from the Hawkhill and Stockley Inclosures.

Chorley Lodge
Alan Brown took this photo sometime in the 1980s when the building still existed. From the Tony Johnson collection.

Post-war use by the New Forest Scouts

The airfield closed in 1959 to be managed by the Forestry Commission. At some point after that, the majority of buildings on the airfield were demolished, with exception to the grocery store building on RAF Beaulieu’s Communal Site 1.

Not long after, the airfield grocery store building was handed over the the Scouts, where it became the HQ for the 8th Wimpson (West District) scout troop. It was also used to host bingo evenings during the same period.

chorley lodge roundhill campsite
The sign as seen in the 1980s that would hang inside the Chorley Lodge scout hut at Roundhill Campsite. It would have been a store when open as RAF Beaulieu in the war.

The large hut was renamed as Chorley Lodge, and become a much loved destination for children in the local area who visited Roundhill. The following quote was lifted from the Southampton City Scouts website:

“Chorley Lodge became a well known venue in the New Forest for Scouting and other young people for 40 years. For all that time one person undertook the responsibility of the booking and administration her name was Dorrie Heather. She was, until recently, a member of our Scout District with her husband Fred. They were both very much concerned with running the 8th Scout Group who were in fact the owners of Chorley Lodge throughout that time.”

Chorley lodge beaulieu
Chorley Lodge scout hut in the 1970s. Photo courtesy of Rob Moody.

I was also given the following comment from Dorrie Heather’s son, Bob Heather, in May 2021:

“My father was a Group Scout Leader and managed to purchase one of the buildings on Beaulieu Airfield in the late 50’s, and was used as a scout camp base named Chorley Lodge, named after two scout leaders. Scouts from all over the world came and stayed there. My mother was the booking agent for it. It was eventually deemed unfit for use in the early 90’s and was demolished. The concrete base is still there next to the water tower near the campsite.”

scout badge
Clair Whitaker’s grandparents, Fred and Dorrie Heather ran Chorley Lodge. Claire kindly gave me this photo of a scout badge which shows the WW2 building they would use at Beaulieu.

I am told that the building had no electricity or sewage system so was extremely basic when used by the Scouts. However, during wartime, it’s likely it would have been connected to the airfield’s electricity supply when operational.  

Here’s a photo that a local gentleman gave me. I would estimate that it was taken in the early to mid 1980s when it still served as a scout hut a few years before it was destroyed.

chorley lodge scout hut roundhill
Chorley Lodge scout hut on Roundhill Campsite used to be an airfield store during the RAF Beaulieu wartime era.

According to press reports and memories relayed to me by people who were in the scouts, the mid 1980s saw the beginning of the end for Chorley Lodge.

It was subject to an arson attack twice, the second fire happening whilst it was being repaired after the first fire.

This was likely the death knell for Chorley Lodge at Roundhill Campsite. Hampshire Scouting also had Ferny Crofts and so something had to go – I believe for financial reasons.

It was Chorley Lodge that they decided to close down, so the old scout hut on Roundhill was removed.

Roundhill scout hut
In this photo the scout leaders are dressed as astronauts for an activity. The man in yellow is Charles Old. His wife Doreen ran the cub pack. Photo taken between 1976 and 1977.

What still exists today at Roundhill

Which brings us up to speed with modern times. All that is visible now of the scout hut and grocery store site is an expanse of concrete on the ground.

You can see me point out the visible foundations at around 3 minutes and 25 seconds into the video below.

Like much of RAF Beaulieu, it is slowly being reclaimed by nature.

If you had been on the airfield during wartime, here’s a mock-up of what you would seen. This image is courtesy of a flight simulator route that Terry in Dorset at RAFIbsley.com created, with my location notes over the top.

RAF Beaulieu Communal Site 1
What the Communal Site 1 could have worked like in World War 2. The grocery store on the bottom right would become Chorley Lodge scout hut in later years.

M Heighway

I am not a historian. I am not an archaeologist. I have no association to the Royal Air Force. I am just a local guy with a kid, a dog, and video camera trying to create a lasting resource for other people to enjoy.

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