Record Details

NHER Number:1793
Type of record:Monument
Name:Bircham Newton Airfield

Summary

The airfield was established as Royal Flying Corp training station in 1918. In 1920 it became the base for RAF bomber squadrons and continued as such until 1936. It then became a base for fighter squadrons. After the World War Two it served a number of military functions, before it was closed in 1962. In 1966 it opened as training centre for the construction industry. Much of the airfield and many of the associated buildings survive and they represent one of the best preserved former RAF stations in active use.

Images

  • Married quarters built between 1928 and 1939 on Bircham Newton airfield.  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

Location

Grid Reference:TF 785 340
Map Sheet:TF73SE
Parish:BIRCHAM, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK
DOCKING, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description


Founded as gunnery school in 1918 with grass strips; BBC programme claimed the white painted buildings are of this date, but NSAM entry appears to deny this. Continued in use throughout inter war period.
Coastal Command base throughout World War Two, when airfield rebuilt.
Training school 1945-62 when officially closed.
United State Army Air Force Storage base 1962-4.
Test airfield 1965.
Now Construction Industry Board Training School, with Barclays Bank occupying Guard Room.
For detailed history and use see (S1).
E. Rose (NAU) 3 August 1983.

Hangar removed to East Dereham High Street where used as munitions factory and visited by King George VI; later used as garage, burnt down 1983.
E. Rose (NAU) 25 August 1983.

See cuttings (S2) and (S3) in file.

(S4) on suitability of field for Handley Pages 1918 in file.
Also reference (S5) and (S6).

World War Two anti-aircraft artillery. See file.
D. Gurney (NLA) 28 January 1997.

2002.
Two houses of pre 1928, and married quarters of 1930s, Hyde Close (see map in file) photographed before demolition of latter.
See (S7).
E. Rose (NLA) September 2002.

According to (S8) there is a water tower in the complex which is the only example in Britain of brick curtain walls infilling between concrete supports, although this is common on the continent.
E. Rose (NLA) 7 February 2004.

August 2005.
The airfield was established as Royal Flying Corp training station in 1918. In 1920 it became the base for RAF bomber squadrons and continued as such until 1936. It then became a base for fighter squadrons. After World War Two it served a number of military functions, before it was closed in 1962. In 1966 it opened as training centre for the construction industry. Much of the airfield and many associated buildings survive and they represent one of the best preserved former RAF stations in active use.
See (S5).
D. Robertson (NLA) 2 August 2005.

For a detailed discussion of the development of Bircham Newton Airfield, and photographs of many of the buildings, see (S9).
A. Cattermole (NLA), 13 January 2010.

This site has an unusual underground battle headquarters, with a round observation turret (S10).
D. Gurney (HES), 4 November 2011.

Water tower was demolished in 2006.
Information from NIAS.
H. Hamilton (HES), 04 July 2013.

Monument Types

  • WATER TOWER (Post Medieval - 1540 AD to 1900 AD)
  • ARTILLERY SCHOOL (Modern - 1901 AD to 2050 AD)
  • AIRFIELD (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • AIRFIELD (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • ANTI AIRCRAFT BATTERY (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BATTLE HEADQUARTERS (11008/41) (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Aerial Photograph: TF7933A-C, TF7934A-B, TF7833 A-B.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1996. Bomber ready for a new chapter in aerial war. 21 August.
---Newspaper Article: Lynn News. 1998. Look back… (photograph of Bircham Newton Airfield). 14 July.
---Monograph: Gunn, P.B.. 2002. Bircham Newton. A Norfolk Airfield in War and Peace..
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1996. Bomber ready for a new chapter in aerial war. 21 August.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Publication: Airfields of Norfolk and Suffolk. part. IV.
<S2>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1986. Ghostbusters called in. 12 March.
<S3>Newspaper Article: Lynn News & Advertiser. 1982. Thanks for the memory (photograph of Bircham Newton Airfield). 17 August.
<S4>Unpublished Document: Anon. 1918. Report on the following aerodromes re their suitability for use by the V type HP and other similar machines.
<S5>Publication: Gunn, P.. 1992. Airfield Focus, Bircham Newton. no.5.
<S6>Serial: Dobinson, C.S.. 1996. Twentieth Century Fortifications in England.. Vol I(4), p 579; Vol I(3).
<S7>Photograph: Rose, E.. 2002. KRV 6-9.
<S8>Monograph: Barton, B.. 2003. Water towers of Britain and their part in bringing water to the people.. p 49-50.
<S9>Monograph: McKenzie, R.. 2004. Ghost Fields of Norfolk. pp 9-17.
<S10>Website: Simon Purcell. 2011. Battle Headquarters.

Related records - none

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