RAF Defford Museum

The RAF Defford Museum at National Trust Croome opened on Sunday September 28th 2014 and fulfilled a long cherished dream of Veterans of RAF Defford.

The entrance to RAF Defford Museum at Croome, April 2016

In early Spring 2014 plans were put in place to start building work on the restoration of the Sick Quarters Decontamination Annexe of RAF Defford to accommodate the ‘RAF Defford Museum’. The restoration of the building was funded by the generosity of Severn Waste Services, based in Evesham, through the Landfill Community Scheme.

On May 16th 2014, the restored Decontamination Annexe was formally handed over to the National Trust by the contractors, Croft Building and Conservation. The historic building was restored to its 1942 appearance externally while adapted internally to house the Museum.

A second former RAF building which had housed the Station Ambulance Garage and the Mortuary, has also now been restored, thanks to the generosity of a private donor. This addition to the Museum was opened to the public in February 2016 and houses the cockpit and forward fuselage of Canberra WD956 a ground training simulator that finished its days at RRE Pershore after moving from Defford. Also in this building is an exhibition telling the story of Defford’s role during the Cold War years. This includes “what happened next” after Defford closed for flying in 1957 and operations moved to RRE Pershore because the main runway was not long enough or strong enough to take the new V-bombers then coming into service.

Attached to the Ambulance Garage but not open to visitors is the former Mortuary which houses the Museum Store.

Former Decontamination Annexe, RAF Defford, now at Croome, Worcestershire
Former Decontamination Annexe, RAF Defford, Croome, Worcestershire in summer 2013, before restoration
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
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

The Museum tells the fascinating story of RAF Defford during World War II and the Cold War years, and its vital role in the flight testing of secret radar systems devised by scientists at the Telecommunications Research Establishment at Malvern. It describes 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.

Outreach and education is an essential part of the Museum, 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 Museum also brings a wide range of volunteer opportunities to the National Trust at Croome, as stewards, carrying out historical research, and assisting with the outreach activities. To find out more about volunteering, please use our Contact Us page.

To follow our plans for the Museum please see our News Page updates.

Comments and suggestions are welcome via our Contact Us page.

The Museum Project Team

The RAF Defford Museum Project was driven by a Project Board appointed by the National Trust, comprising Michael Smith (the NT Property Manager at Croome) as Chairman, Dr Dennis Williams and Dr Bob Shaw from the DAHG. The professional Project Manager and surveyor was Sarah Fowler.

Dr Dennis Williams, the DAHG Curator is also National Trust’s appointed Curator for the Museum, with full curatorial authority.

The restoration project was put out to tender in early November 2013 and Croft Building and Conservation Ltd was appointed by the National Trust to carry out the work of restoring the Decontamination Annexe to as near as possible its 1942 appearance, while also adapting it to accommodate the Museum and meet modern building requirements such as thermal insulation. It was also important to ensure that bats, a protected species, were not disadvantaged!

The restoration was made possible by a generous grant and on-going support and encouragement from the Evesham-based firm Severn Waste Services through the Landfill Communities Scheme. This was administered by the Pershore-based charity Welcome to our Future.

In May 2014, we received the news that we had been awarded an ‘Our Heritage’ grant of £82,900 by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This grant funded the interior of the buildings, its fixtures, fittings and displays and enabled us to carry out a 3 year education and outreach programme.

We are recruiting Museum volunteers. Can you help? Find out more.