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Fearn Royal Naval Air Station (Former) Control Tower

A Category C Listed Building in Fearn, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.7603 / 57°45'36"N

Longitude: -3.9379 / 3°56'16"W

OS Eastings: 284794

OS Northings: 876158

OS Grid: NH847761

Mapcode National: GBR J8N6.LX6

Mapcode Global: WH4F8.H61Q

Entry Name: Fearn Royal Naval Air Station (Former) Control Tower

Listing Date: 24 August 2000

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 394696

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB47342

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Fearn

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Tain and Easter Ross

Parish: Fearn

Traditional County: Ross-shire

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Description

Circa 1940 (opened 1941). 3-storey with roof-top air watch office ('glasshouse'); square-plan, part-balconied, disused Second World War control tower of standard Royal Naval Air Station design, flat-roofed with ventilation tower at rear. Brick and reinforced concrete. Air watch office with window openings to angles and all elevations, including small annex addition to rear. Wind sock post.

W (FRONT) ELEVATION: 3 principal storeys divided by balconies at 1st and 2nd floors,

returned and terminated to N and S elevations. 6 window openings at ground; 2nd and 3rd floors with central window opening flanked by door openings, flanked in turn by window openings to outer left and right.

N ELEVATION: projecting single storey entrance block centred at ground; pair of window openings to right at ground; pairs of window openings flanking centre at 1st and 2nd floors.

S ELEVATION: projecting single storey entrance block centred at ground, with small window openings above, and flanking; 3 irregularly-arranged window openings at 1st and 2nd floors.

E ELEVATION: pair of vent openings centred at ground, flanked by pairs of irregularly-arranged window openings; 4 irregularly-arranged window openings at 1st floor; 3 irregularly-arranged window openings at 2nd floor.

INTERIOR: not seen, 2000.

Statement of Interest

The control tower is one of the most significant surviving representatives of the former Fearn Royal Naval Air Station (originally called Clays of Allen) opened in 1941. Most Royal Naval Air Station control towers followed standard design patterns, and were constructed by Royal Marine Engineers. The three-storey control tower was the most commonly built of its type, examples of which can still be found at various locations in Great Britain, including Burscough, Hinstock and Inskip. Although Fearn only has three runways instead of the usual four of Navy airfields, the control tower was rebuilt to this standard design. The walls were constructed of solid brick, cavity brick, and reinforced concrete, with the air watch office usually being made of reinforced concrete. Out of the airfields of Easter Ross, interesting both for their concentration in the area and their inter-relations during the Second World War, Fearn remains the best preserved where the lay-out of the airfield is still clear. The nearby Tain airfield, for which Fearn was built as a satellite, was not used by the Royal Air Force extensively, and thus Fearn was transferred to the Royal Navy, and commissioned as HMS Owl on July 15th 1942. During the Second World War, Fearn was in constant use, originally by the 825 Squadron, then as a torpedo training unit for Barracuda squadrons, as well as being used by Canadian and Dutch squadrons. Bomber Command had wanted to utilise Fearn for future Norwegian operations, but were refused permission by the Navy. After being an SLG for Dalcross in the early 1950s, Fearn was sold for agricultural purposes, and was later used for motor racing. The Cromarty Firth Development Company bought Fearn in 1974, and planned to develop it as the Cromarty Firth Airport, with Loganair hoping to link it with other Scottish airports, and exploit its proximity to the Nigg Bay oil rigs. A variety of Fearn Airfield and nearby Loans of Tulloch camp buildings still stand, in varying conditions of dereliction. They are mostly corrugated-iron built, or brick and cement built, some with asbestos roofs.

They include Nissan huts, with some surviving concrete shelving and work benches; Mainhill type hangars; accommodation blocks or mess halls, with water tank towers and roof vents.

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