2018 is the 100th anniversary of the former RAF station at Bircham Newton, near Stanhoe, as well as the foundation of the Royal Air Force. To celebrate, the RAF Heritage Centre at Bircham Newton is holding a special Veterans’ Day on Saturday 19 May, as well as its usual programme of open days through the summer and autumn.
The Veterans’ Day will be open to all former service personnel who served or were trained at Bircham Newton, and their close families. Visitors are expected to include former RAF administrative apprentices who trained there in the late 1950s and early 1960s, former national servicemen, former members of the Women’s Royal Air Force, and officers who trained at the Officers’ Advanced Training School (OATS) or its successor the Junior Command and Staff School (JCSS). The event will start at 1.30 pm and entrance will be free.
Other visitors will be welcome at the Heritage Centre on a series of open days beginning in just a few weeks:
- Easter Sunday, 1st and Monday 2nd April
- Early May Bank Holiday Sunday 6th May and Monday 7th May
- Veterans’ Day: Saturday 19th May starting at 1 pm
- Spring Bank Holiday Sunday 27th and Monday 28th May
- Last Sunday in June: 24th June
- Last Sunday in July: 29th July
- Summer Bank Holiday Sunday 26th August and Monday 27th August
- Last Sunday in September: 30th September
The Heritage Centre has a unique collection of photographs, personal memories of servicemen and other items. It is run entirely by volunteers, many of whom are ex-servicemen or children of service personnel. Close by there are two stone memorials to remember those who served at Bircham Newton and its main satellite airfield near Docking.
Opening times are from 10 am to 4 pm. Entrance is free. Disabled access and toilet facilities are provided.
The RAF Bircham Newton Heritage Centre is based at the National Construction College, postcode PE31 6RB, which is signposted off the A148 and B1454.
Visit www.rafbnmp.org.uk or contact (tel 01379 741884), or (tel 01362 860139).
Flying from 1918 to the 1960s
The first unit to fly from Bircham Newton, No. 3 Fighting School, arrived in May 1918, just one month after the birth of the Royal Air Force. The Fighting School was soon joined by a second unit flying giant Handley Page bombers, with an audacious plan to bomb Germany.
Flying continued beyond the Armistice and throughout the inter-war years, increasing dramatically during the Second World War.
The station was finally closed in the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War. Flying briefly returned in the mid–1960s, when trials of the Kestrel jump jet were conducted on the airfield.