A unique and important history From 1914 until 1996, RNAS Lee-on-Solent, HMS Daedalus was a site of extraordinary energy, innovation, and vibrancy – home and workplace to thousands, the engine of an entire community and a point of pride for the nation. The site was established as a seaplane base in 1917, during the First World War. In 1931 the first grass airstrip at Lee was constructed and by 1936 it became RAF Coastal Command. During WWII the site played an important role in the invasion of Normandy and was a major embarkation centre for D-Day. Following the war the site continued as a Royal Navy Air Station. In 1962 the Joint Service Hovercraft Unit was formed with the aim of testing hovercraft in an operational military environment, and soon after the Air Station reverted to the name HMS Daedalus on 5 October 1965. The site is now home to the largest collection of hovercraft in the world in The Hovercraft Museum
The waterfront site is the final element of Daedalus within Homes England’s ownership to come forward for development. In recent years the site has been largely empty and dormant, and the important historic assets awaiting viable reuse. This new, ambitious vision, designed by master-planner ACME, is for a creative regeneration of this historic waterfront site with a targeted, design-led, industrial innovation strategy supported by the local community. Central to the vision is the restoration of the historic buildings, including the First World War hangars that face the Solent. These will act as a catalyst for economic development, a gateway to the project and an upgraded home for The Hovercraft Museum. The goal is to help it become a world-class visitor attraction – joining the rest of Hampshire’s unrivalled Naval and Maritime attractions.