RAF Defford Museum on track to open in September

The RAF Defford Museum will open in September and fulfil a long cherished dream of DAHG members.

On May 16th, the restored Decontamination Annexe was formally handed over to the National Trust at Croome by the contractors, Croft Building and Conservation. The historic building has been restored externally to its 1942 appearance, but adapted internally to house the RAF Defford Museum.

RAF Defford Museum building, the exterior restored to its 1942 appearance, in May 2014

RAF Defford Museum building, the exterior restored to its 1942 appearance, in May 2014

The building work for the restoration was made possible thanks to the generosity of the Evesham-based company Severn Waste Services, through the Landfill Community Scheme, which contributed up to £87,500, with the balance coming from the National Trust, towards the total cost of building works estimated at £135,000.

RAF Defford Museum building looking through to the restored interior, in May 2014

RAF Defford Museum building looking through to the restored interior, in May 2014

Also this month, Defford Airfield Heritage Group received the news that we have been awarded an ‘Our Heritage’ grant of £82,900 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to fund the museum contents and carry out an education and outreach programme over three years.

This brings the total cost of the project so far to over £200,000.

The Museum is now on course to open to the public on Sunday, September 28th.

RAF Defford Museum building, the exterior restored to its 1942 appearance, in May 2014

RAF Defford Museum building, the exterior restored to its 1942 appearance, in May 2014

A joint draft press released by the Heritage Lottery Fund and DAHG says:

“The Defford Airfield Heritage Group, working in partnership with the National Trust, has received £82,900 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for an exciting project, the creation of the RAF Defford Museum at Croome in Worcestershire. Led by volunteers from the local community, the project will be based in a World War II building at the former Sick Quarters used by RAF Defford, now owned by the National Trust. The first phase of the museum development will be open to visitors by the end of September 2014.

The RAF Defford Museum at Croome is a unique project that brings together the Defford Airfield Heritage Group’s specialised historical knowledge and skills and the National Trust’s wealth of experience in conserving heritage for the enjoyment of all. The Decontamination Annexe, which forms part of the RAF Defford Sick Quarters site, will provide a permanent home for the museum, with facilities specially designed to present an imaginative and stimulating audio-visual experience to all Croome visitors.

The museum will tell the fascinating story of RAF Defford during World War II and the Cold War years, emphasising its vital role in the flight testing of secret radar systems devised by scientists at the Telecommunications Research Establishment at Malvern. But it will also describe the part played by the station in the social history of rural Worcestershire, and the way in which the construction of the airfield dramatically changed the landscape of Croome Park, now owned by the National Trust.

An outreach and education programme is an essential part of the project, enabling us to tell the story of RAF Defford to local groups and societies, and most importantly to young people in schools, colleges and universities. The project will also bring a wide range of new volunteer opportunities to the National Trust at Croome, in setting up and running the museum, carrying out historical research, and assisting with the outreach activities.

Commenting on the award, Dr Dennis Williams, the Custodian of the RAF Defford Museum, said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and are confident the project will be of interest to Croome’s many visitors and may also show young people what Air Force life was really like in wartime Worcestershire”.

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