Patron: Sir Michael Oswald KCVO DSc MA
Trustees: David Jacklin and Avril MacArthur
Registered Charity Number 1111530
Following the publication of books on the history of the the former RAF airfields at Bircham Newton and Docking, this project was started with the aim of providing suitable memorials for RAF Bircham Newton and its main satellite airfield. The project was the brainchild of a former RAF Wing Commander, Neil Grant, who recruited other volunteers and lead the project during the first five years. David Jacklin, another founder member and former RAF officer, is now leading the project as the chairman of the project team.
A trust was established and registered as a charity with the object of funding the provision of suitable memorials. Many organisations and individuals generously supported the project, including The Borough Council of King's Lynn West Norfolk, The Lady Hind Trust, The Pennycress Trust, Waitrose plc (Swaffham Branch), CITB-ConstructionSkills, The National Construction College , Bircham Parish Council, Docking Parish Council, The RAF Administrative Apprentices Association, Diss and District Rotary Club, The Rotary Club of Cromer and Sheringham, Aviation artist John Stevens and the County Gallery (Dereham), The Norfolk Military Vehicle Group, The Anglo-American Airfields Tour Group, The 221 Squadron Association, and The 206 Squadron Association.
The project team erected stone memorials at Bircham Newton and its satellite airfield at Docking. The first of these memorials, seen above, was dedicated to those who served at Bircham Newton. It is located outside the Heritage Centre within the National Construction College. It was unveiled and dedicated in September 2006. The second memorial, seen below, remembering those who served at Docking, was unveiled and dedicated one year later, in September 2007. The Docking memorial is situated about one mile outside the village of Docking along the Brancaster road.
Also, thanks to the generous provision of accommodation at the National Construction College at Bircham Newton, a Heritage Centre was established to conserve and display the memorabilia of the former RAF station and its satellite airfields. The Heritage Centre was first opened on the 28th of July 2005, and has been opened to the public on a regular basis ever since. The Centre is operated and maintained by a small team of volunteers, many of whom are ex-service personnel or have strong service connections. The Centre has become a focus for the history of these former RAF stations as well as an important addition to the local heritage, available to the general public and to the staff and students of the National Construction College and its visitors. It is also available to school parties and students of aviation and local history, and as a venue for illustrated talks, thus providing an educational service.
It is also possible to access the project website, www.rafbnmp.org.uk, which was first established in 2006. This allows access to information about the history of the former airfields and about this project, including opening dates and the latest news. It also allows remote users to contact the project team for information, to pass on personal memories, to inform the team about people who served at Bircham Newton, and for other reasons.
Although the main objectives of the project have been achieved, the volunteers continue to maintain and improve the Heritage Centre and, with the support of the National Construction College, make it available to visitors and to the general public as often as possible. The volunteers also continue to conduct research, answer queries submitted by members of the public and promotes the history of RAF Bircham Newton and its satellites by giving illustrated talks, by generating literature, and by exhibiting at public events.
A special event was held in September 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of RAF Bircham Newton. The Heritage Centre was opened to the public and many external exhibits were displayed outside, including military vehicles, large-scale aircraft models and art by local schoolchildren. Popular and military music was provided by Fakenham Town Band, and there was a flypast of vintage aircraft by Felthorpe Flying Club. The event concluded with a 'sunset ceremony', which included the playing of the Last Post as the RAF ensign was lowered. Local ATC cadets provided a guard of honour. A similar event was held on the 19th of May 2018, when a Veterans' Day was held to celebrate the centenary of the birth of the aerodrome as an RAF flying station in May 1918.
The latest project news is available via the Latest News button. Should you wish to communicate with the project team, please click on the Contact Us button.
© D. Jacklin 2017. This website is owned by the RAF Bircham Newton Memorial Project.