The RAF Heritage Room at Bircham Newton

The 2011 season of public open days at Bircham Newton’s RAF Heritage Room ended on the 25th of September.  This was the finale to a very successful season when the Heritage Room was opened to the public on ten separate occasions, and lots of new information was discovered about Bircham Newton’s past.

In addition, the Heritage Room was opened to accommodate former RAF apprentices, who returned to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their training at this former RAF station, for the Radio Norfolk Treasure Quest team (Becky Betts and Ian Forster) who visited as part of one of their Sunday morning radio shows, and for casual visitors who were unable to attend one of the scheduled openings.  In mid November, children from a local primary school spent a morning in the Heritage Room looking at the exhibits and filling in questionnaires about the displays.

The Heritage Room, which was first opened in 2005, contains an archive of material associated with this former RAF station and its WWII satellite airfield at Docking.  Many unique photographs, airfield plans, models, drawings and other items of memorabilia are on display and can be viewed free of charge.  In addition, personal recollections and stories have been captured from visiting veterans or from the families of airmen who served here in the past.  Two permanent stone memorials have also been erected nearby to remember those who served at Bircham Newton and Docking.  Several improvements were made to the Heritage Room during 2011 and many new exhibits and photographs are now on display.  These include new aircraft models donated by members of the West Norfolk IPMS (Scale Model Club).  A new reading room has also been created to allow visitors to study books and other documents in a quiet environment.

Planning is now underway for the 2012 season, including a special 50th anniversary event to mark the closure of the RAF station at the end of 1962 and to celebrate its service history from 1918.

The Heritage Room first openings will be during the Easter holidays on Sunday 8th April and Monday 9th April followed by the final Sunday of each month – 27th May, 24th June, 29th July, 26th August  and 30th September.  In addition, it will be open on the following public holidays:, Sunday 6th May; Monday 7th May; and Monday 27th August. Opening times will be from 11am until 5pm and entrance will be free.  It is planned to hold the 50th anniversary celebrations during the final open day in September. Further details, including the complete schedule, will be advertised in local newspapers, on local radio, and on the project website: www.rafbnmp.org.uk.

Points of contact are Mr. David Jacklin (Tel: 01379 741884) djacklin@aol.com or Mrs. Avril MacArthur (Tel: 01485 578588) avril.macarthur1@btinternet.com

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