RAF Defford Museum

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Visiting the Museum

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

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

Former Decontamination Annexe, RAF Defford, now at Croome, Worcestershire

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

On May 16th 2014, 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 Museum.

A second former RAF building which had housed the Ambulance Garage and the Mortuary, has now been restored, thanks to the generosity of a private donor, and opened to the public in February 2016. The former Ambulance Garage now houses the cockpit and forward fuselage of Canberra WD956 which finished its days as a grounded training simulator at RRE Pershore after the move from Defford. Also in this building is an exhibition about Defford in the Cold War years and “what happened next” following the move to Pershore after Defford closed for flying in 1957 (because the main runway was not long enough or strong enough to take the new V-bombers then coming into service). The former Mortuary houses the Museum Store, and is not open to the visitors.

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, 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 also brings 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. To find out more about volunteering, please contact us.

To follow our progress on the Museum plans, see our News page updates.

Comments and suggestions on this project are welcome via our ‘Contact Us‘ page.

The Museum team

The project is driven by a Project Board appointed by the National Trust, comprising Michael Smith (the Property Manager at Croome) as Chairman, Dr Dennis Williams and Dr Bob Shaw from DAHG. The professional Project Manager is Sarah Fowler, an experienced surveyor.

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

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

The whole project has been 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, administered by the Pershore-based charity Welcome to our Future.

In May 2014, Defford Airfield Heritage Group received the news that we had been awarded an ‘Our Heritage’ grant of £82,900 by the Heritage Lottery Fund to fund the interior of the buildings, its fixtures, fittings and displays and carry out an education and outreach programme over three years.

The main building of the Museum, in the meticulously restored RAF building which housed the Decontamination Annex of the Station Sick Quarters during the Second World War, opened to the public in September 2014.

A second building, the former Ambulance Garage, has been restored and preserved thanks to the generosity of a private donor, and will open to visitors in February 2016. This building houses the preserved forward fuselage of a Canberra jet bomber which was in use at Pershore following the arrival of the Radar Research Flying Unit after Defford closed for flying in 1957. The Canberra exhibit forms part of an interactive display, together with more on the post-war era at Defford and at Pershore, where many Canberra aircraft were extensively involved in research flying.