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Control Tower, RAF Museum (Former RAF East Kirkby)

A Grade II Listed Building in East Kirkby, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.1388 / 53°8'19"N

Longitude: -0.0014 / 0°0'4"W

OS Eastings: 533792

OS Northings: 362047

OS Grid: TF337620

Mapcode National: GBR JTL.6HJ

Mapcode Global: WHHKY.YCJL

Plus Code: 9C5X4XQX+GF

Entry Name: Control Tower, RAF Museum (Former RAF East Kirkby)

Listing Date: 1 December 2005

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392845

English Heritage Legacy ID: 500350

Location: East Kirkby, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire, PE23

County: Lincolnshire

District: East Lindsey

Civil Parish: East Kirkby

Built-Up Area: East Kirkby

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Miningsby with East Kirkby St Nicholas

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

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Control Tower, RAF Museum (former RAF East Kirkby)


Control Tower. 1942. Built to designs of the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings, as Office for All Commands design, to Drawing No. 12779/41. Rendered brick with asphalt roof.

PLAN: Ground floor has watch office to front with duty pilot's rest room, meteorological office, switch room and lavatories to rear; first floor has control room to front, with controller's rest room and signals office to rear, opening onto passage with access to stairs.

EXTERIOR: Large multi-paned steel casements to front and to flank walls of watch office and control room, providing clear views of the flying field, these having been reduced in size later in the war (to design 343/43). Access from steel stairs on return elevation to concrete balcony with tubular steel railings and with iron columns providing support. Smaller steel casements to rear part of side and rear elevations. Doors to left-hand and rear elevations.

INTERIOR: Concrete stairs; painted brick walls with rendered dados; original joinery including panelled doors throughout.

HISTORY: This control tower has been restored as the centrepiece of a museum, which commemorates the history of this airfield and the personnel who served there and lost their lives in combat. East Kirkby was opened in 1943 in support of Bomber Command's offensive. The Control Tower is one of 162 examples built to this Air Ministry design (Watch Office for All Commands), of which 82 now survive. It is one of a very small number which have survived in this degree of preservation - other examples being Alconbury (with operations room attached), Duxford, Dunkeswell, Rougham, Little Walden (or Matching Green) and Ludham. 57 and 630 Squadrons operated from East Kirkby, sustaining losses of 831 airmen of whom nearly 200 came from Commonwealth countries.

In the second half of the 1930s, increasing attention was being given to the dispersal and shelter of aircraft from attack, ensuring serviceable landing and take-off areas, and the control of movement: the result was the development of the control tower and the planning from 1938 of the first airfields with runways and perimeter tracks. The control tower, which first appeared as a recognisable design in 1934, became the most distinctive and instantly recognisable building associated with military airfields, particularly in the Second World War when they served as foci for base personnel as they awaited the return of aircraft from operations. This is one of a very small number of control towers on Second World War airfields which are either exceptionally well-preserved or have distinguished operational histories. Their iconic value both as operational nerve centres and as memorials to the enormous losses sustained by American and Commonwealth forces in the course of the Strategic Bomber Offensive has long been recognised. A deserted control tower, for example, was the focus of the opening scenes of Richard Asquith's film The Way to the Stars (1945), which explored the thoughts of a veteran returning to a deserted airbase, as a ploughshare pulled by a horse team returned land formerly used to wage aggressive war to agriculture.

(Information from Lincolnshire Aviation Museum)

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