Record Details

NHER Number:13162
Type of record:Monument
Name:Sedgeford World War One airfield and World War Two decoy airfield

Summary

The site of a World War One airfield that was subsequently used as a decoy airfield during World War Two. Some World War One buildings survive including the officers' mess, officers' quarters and a rare air raid shelter. A World War Two air raid shelter also survives at the site. The World War One airfield opened in 1915 and closed in 1920. At the start of World War Two, the surviving buildings from the airfield, which included the hangars, made the site ideal for use as a decoy airfield. The site was used as both a daylight decoy (K site) and as a night time decoy (Q site) for the nearby airfield at Bircham Newton (NHER 1793). By June 1945 the hangars were being dismantled and many smaller buildings had already been removed. All of the hangars had been demolished by June 1946.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TF 7318 3662
Map Sheet:TF73NW
Parish:SEDGEFORD, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

Site of World War One airfield, two buildings and camp roads with main gate surviving. Used as decoy airfield in World War Two.
Information from Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum.

Retains a rare World War One air raid shelter, plus one from World War Two.
Information from Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum.

Opened 1915 as anti-Zeppelin field.
1916, training base; 1917, fighter, later training again, till 1920.
In World War Two both Q and K type decoys.
World War One hangars survived until around 1950.
Four World War One buildings remain officers quarters later turned into bungalows.
Had own rail head.
Workhouse (NHER 15008) used as officers mess.
See (S1).
E. Rose (NAU), 3 August 1983.

The above reference to the officers quarters may be a confusion with the officer's mess in the workhouse, the workhouse now has indeed been converted to bungalows.

Report on suitability of field for Handley Pages (aeroplanes) 1918 in file.

March 2006. Norfolk NMP.
Remains of a World War One airfield that was used as a decoy airfield during World War Two are visible on aerial photographs (S6-S8). The central grid reference for the site has been amended from TF 7300 3640 to TF 7318 3663. However, the site reflects only the area of the buildings as the full extent of the airfield is uncertain. The World War One airfield opened in 1915 and closed in 1920 (S2). The surviving buildings at the site, including the hangers, made it ideal for use as a decoy airfield in World War Two. The site was used as both a daylight decoy site (known as a 'K' site) and as a night time decoy (known as a 'Q' site) for the nearby airfield at Bircham Newton (NHER 1793) (S2, S5). The earliest available aerial photographs showing the site date from June 1945 (S6) by which time it was already disused and demolition of some of the buildings was underway.

The majority of the airfield buildings appear to have been located close to an access road that looped around the Whin Close woodland. This road and other tracks leading off of it still exist and are shown on the modern Ordnance Survey map. The largest buildings on the site were the hangers, two of which were still standing in June 1945. One was located in an isolated position at TF 7396 3628 on the western edge of the site and was accessed by a track leading off of the main loop road. The second hanger was located at TF 7324 3651 with the loop road to its west and the main area of the airfield to its east. A third hanger was located immediately to its north at TF 7323 3660 but was in the process of being demolished in June 1945 (S6-S7). These hangers were rectangular in plan with curved profile roofs and measured approximately 54m by 29m. The rails for the doors and buttresses along the sides of the hangers are visible on some aerial photographs (S6). The size and form of the hangers suggests that they were RFC general service aeroplane sheds belonging to the World War One airfield. Parchmarks to the north and east of the two main hangers may mark the location of additional fake hangers relating to the World War Two decoy airfield. Numerous marks relating to huts and other small structures that had already been demolished by June 1945 were present to the west of the two main hangers. It is possible that some of these were World War One buildings that had been used as part of the World War Two decoy airfield. However, some of the marks may relate to fake buildings constructed solely for the decoy airfield. Two surviving buildings are visible on the 1945 and later aerial photographs (S6-S8). A rectangular building with a pitched roof is located at TF 7303 3650. It measures approximately 53m long by 6.5m wide and appears to be the Officers’ Mess building referred to in (S2). The Officers’ Quarters building (S2) is located at TF 7300 3644 adjacent to the loop road around the site. Both of these buildings are of World War One date. Both of the remaining World War One hanger and some other smaller structures had been removed by June 1946 (S8).
J. Albone (NMP), 22 March 2006.

July-August 2009. Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP). Building survey and excavation.
Four different areas were investigated by SHARP. A survey was undertaken (Team A) of a two room building constructed of coarse bricks, flue-type blocks, concrete and slate at TF 73051 36455. The rooms were vented with round wall vents, were linked by a double width doorway and were lit by windows towards the top of the structure. The rooms were also rendered with concrete to create a continuous, curved, surface where the walls meet the floor. The remaining roof structure included a wooden louvered vent. All of these features, along with the buildings location in a secluded wooded area during the First World War, corroborate local rumour that this structure was the aerodrome's mortuary chapel during the First World War.
An excavation trench (Team B) was sited to investigate the possible remains of wooden accommodation huts visible on the 1918 aerial photographs. No evidence of the huts or finds were recovered from this trench as the 1945 aerial photographs suggest that they had likely been cleared by this time.
A further excavation trench (Team B) was sited to investigate a known rubbish dump at the base of a tree. Finds dating from 1909 through to the 1940s were recovered including glass bottles and jars, domestic china ware, leather boots, bicycle pedals and a single .303 blank cartridge case. All finds were recovered from the surface and topsoil and were jumbled by date suggesting that the dump was not contemporary with the use of the site during the First and Second World War but was likely the result of post-War clearance.
Also recorded (Team C) was a single room brick air-raid shelter with a corrugated iron ceiling topped with a concrete slab at TF 73041 36455. Steps lead down to a wooden entrance door and low brick piers are sited along the walls, likely to support wooden benches. The shelter is thought to date to the First World War but later additions of additional brickwork and a crudely inserted window suggests that the structure was later used for a different purpose.
See (S9) and (S11) for further information.
A. Beckham (HES), 04 September 2014.

July-August 2010. Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP). Desk based assessment and excavation.
Two different areas were investigated by SHARP. Two trenches were excavated to study the extent of the rubbish dump previously excavated in 2009. Similar finds were recovered, including a leather shoe dating to 1939, a pocket watch, felt hat and a sherd of Adderley ware dating to between 1906 and 1926. The end of a service pipe was also recorded and is thought to related to buildings on the 1918 aerial photographs.
The western corners of Hangar 1 (TF 7322 3662) and the north-eastern corners of Hangar 2 (TF 7322 3653) were excavated. Both hangars measured 170ft x 80ft (5.8m x 24.4m) and the investigations of Hangar 1 showed that metal reinforced concrete wall sections were supported externally by 9in x 6in (22.7m x 15.2cm) posts set in pairs at 10ft (3m) intervals. Each pair had an inner vertically set post and an outer post angled inwards to brace the vertical post. The posts were set in concrete to a depth of 0.6m and braced with metal. Also recorded were arrangements of six square postholes that once supported the sliding doors, as was the associated metal running rail. The hangar construction is thought to resemble that of the hangars at RAF Montrose, Yorkshire. A possible series of rooms were also recorded constructed between the supporting posts of the western wall of Hangar 1. The floor of the rooms varied from bare earth to concrete and door thresholds suggest that some on these rooms were entered from within the hangar while other were entered from outside. One of the rooms contained toilet facilities.
The 1918 aerial photographs show a railway line running onto the airfield from the north-west. An excavation trench was sited to investigate the railhead (TF 73261 36621). A 14m long, 0.1m thick concrete base, laid in situ, was overlain with rows of inverted bricks. The base measured 4.0m wide at its northern end but thinned towards its southern extent. The exact function of the structure is unknown.
Non invasive work also identified the Officer's quarters at TF 73010 36430.
See (S12) for further information.
A. Beckham (HES), 04 September 2014.

February 2011. Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP). Geophysical survey.
A resistivity survey was conducted to identify the location of a H-shaped structure identified on a 1918 map of Sedgeford Aerodrome (c. TF73243666). The survey did not identify the H-shaped structure but did reveal a 15m long anomaly running parallel to the north-west to south-east aligned rail track seen on aerial photographs.
See (S13).
A. Beckham (HES), 04 September 2014.

July-August 2011. Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP). Excavation.
Three main areas were excavated by SHARP during the 2011 season.
Two trenches were opened to investigate geophysical anomalies identified in February 2011. Neither trench revealed archaeologically significant deposits.
Additional trenches were opened in the area around the railhead, first excavated in 2010. Several concrete and brick foundations were uncovered that may represent supports of water towers but the exact function remains unclear.
Two excavation areas were opened in the south-west of the aerodrome, in a part that was once the technical area of the Royal Flying Corps. They revealed a building (Building 8) with a large concrete conduit running down the centre of the floor to the base of a chimney. The structure is interpreted as a doping shed where aircraft wings were repaired. The name derives from the 'dope' or acetate solvent applied to the aircraft wings. An unusual H-shaped concrete pedestal was uncovered in an adjoining annexe and is interpreted as the pedestal for large fans that helped extract the 'dope' fumes from the building through the chimney. An inscribed metal plate from one of the fans was recovered from the annex and shows that the fan was manufactured before the First World War by James Keith Blackman Ltd of Manchester.
Trench 4 was excavated adjacent to the western side of Hangar 2 identified in 2010. A large 1m deep concrete lined pit, subdivided into two equal cells, was uncovered. The pit is thought to have been a sanitation, oil or fuel sump.
See (S13).
A. Beckham (HES), 04 September 2014.

January-March 2012. Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP). Geophysical survey.
A resistivity survey was conducted in the area of the railhead at TF 7329 3661. The survey identified several areas of high resistance.
See (S14).
A. Beckham (HES), 04 September 2014.

July-August 2012. Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP). Excavation.
A trench was excavated to study one of the areas of high resistance recorded by the geophysical survey in the winter of 2012. The trench revealed no archaeologically significant features.
Building 8 (TF 72928 36343). The excavation area undertaken in 2011 to study the doping shed was extended. A chalk rubble and tarmac platform, concrete plinth and two concrete post foundations were found to the west of the annex housing the extractor fan. These are interpreted as a lean-to structure seen on aerial photographs. Further excavation of the main doping shed uncovered asbestos roofing so work was halted.
Small targeted trenches were sited to uncover the walls of the remaining structures in the complex.
Building 9 (TF 72925 36349).
Southern section, Workshops. Concrete foundations and postholes were recorded, along with a partition wall but there was no evidence of a floor. A double doorway was found in the southern wall.
Central Section, Workshops. This section of the workshops was divided from the southern section with asbestos encased blocks. The floor is of concrete with the remains of several concrete machine bases surviving in the western and central portions of the floor. At least three successive layouts of machinery were discernible. A doorway was found in the eastern wall. Few finds of note were recovered except for a propeller sheath recovered to the west of the structure. This central workshop is interpreted as the machine shop for repairing metal parts of the aircraft.
Northern section, Workshops. Little excavation was undertaken here because of vegetation but the floor is of concrete and in the north-west corner there are toilet facilities.
Building 10 (TF 72907 36415), 'the Armoury'. The southern wall and south-western room of this structure were investigated. A large door was found in the south wall, opening onto a tarmac road but no other features of interest were recorded. The structure is interpreted as a store or garage for a small vehicle.
Missing building. Aerial photographs suggest that a building once stood between the workshops and the 'Armoury'. No evidence of any buildings was uncovered. However, a rubbish dump containing spent .303 rounds and inkwells was uncovered.
See (S14).
A. Beckham (HES), 04 September 2014.

July-August 2014. Sedgeford Historical and Archaeological Research Project (SHARP). Building survey.
Work on a World War One technical store at TF 73023 36533 and a World War Two Q control bunker at TF 73339 36431.
Details to follow.
A. Beckham (HES), 04 September 2014.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)
  • AIR RAID SHELTER (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • AIRCRAFT HANGAR (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • MILITARY AIRFIELD (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • OFFICERS MESS (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • OFFICERS QUARTERS (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • AIR RAID SHELTER (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BOMBING DECOY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BOMBING DECOY SITE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • FINDSPOT (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds

  • BRICK (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)
  • HAT (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)
  • POT (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)
  • TILE (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)
  • TILE (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)
  • VESSEL (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)
  • WATCH (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)
  • WINDOW GLASS (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)
  • CARTRIDGE (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • SHOE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Protected Status

  • SHINE

Sources and further reading

---Unpublished Document: 1918. Suitability of Norfolk Aerodromes for Handley Page aeroplanes.
---Unpublished Document: Sedgeford No. 3 Fighting School (Midland Area)..
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1998. 24 February.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Dig set to give insight into aerodrome life. 10 August.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Article in Serial: 1973. Airfields of Norfolk and Suffolk. Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum. Part 1. vol 4.
<S2>Article in Serial: Losson, E.. 1990. NW Norfolk Coastal defences.. NIAS Journal. Vol 4, no 5, p191.
<S3>Serial: Dobinson, C.S.. 1996. Twentieth Century Fortifications in England Volume III: Bombing Decoys of WWII.. Vol III. p 92.
<S4>Monograph: Fairhead, H.. 1996. Huby Fairhead's Decoy Sites. Wartime Deception in Norfolk and Suffolk..
<S5>Monograph: Dobinson, C.. 2000. Fields of Deception. Britain's Bombing Decoys of World War II.. p 245.
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/378 4042-3 13-JUN-1945 (NMR).
<S7>Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/402 4144-5 18-JUN-1945 (NMR).
<S8>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1946. RAF 106G/UK/1606 2242-3 27-JUN-1946 (NHER TF 7237A / TF 7336A).
<S9>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2012. Base reveals its secrets. 23 July.
<S10>Website: Norwich Evening News 24. 2012. Photo gallery: Sedgeford's first world war airfield reveals a hidden past..
<S11>Article in Serial: Gow, A. & Rossin, G.. 2009. If you go down in the woods today… Sedgeford Aerodrome Project: report from the first fieldwork season.. SHARP Interim Report. 2009 Season.. pp 27-30.
<S12>Article in Serial: Taylor, L. & Richardson, E.. 2010. The Aerodrome Project. SHARP Interim Report. 2010 Season.. pp 25-29.
<S13>Article in Serial: Taylor, L. & Richardson, E.. 2011. Sedgeford Aerodrome Project. SHARP Interim Report. 2011 Season.. pp 24-26.
<S14>Unpublished Document: Revell, J.. 2012. Sedgeford Aerodrome Project 2012, Railway Head..

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