Time to Remember - RAF North Creake Memorial Project

Tucked away in a quiet corner of North Norfolk are the remains of a secret WWII bomber base. When you pass through the area today you would be forgiven for thinking the large hangars and nissen huts are old agricultural buildings, but these old structures hold a fascinating history which is mostly forgotten.

There are plans afoot to change all that. Nigel Morter and Claire Nugent became hooked on the history of the airfield when they bought the old Control Tower in 2011. While converting The Control Tower into a period style Art Deco Bed and Breakfast they also started to uncover the much overlooked history of the airfield.

They want to celebrate those who served and commemorate those who were lost by building a befitting memorial in a public place on the old airfield site so that people can learn more about what happened there, who were based there, what they did and those who were lost.

Their aim is to complete this memorial by August 2020 – the 75th Anniversary of the disbandment of RAF North Creake, and while there is still living memory of the Airfield.

The Memorial story so far...

(February 2018)

Walsingham Estate has agreed to designate the land for the memorial site.

The memorial site plan is being drawn up by Architect - David Exeter, in a pro bono capacity as he is a lover of The Control Tower B&B, Art Deco design and his father was ground crew in the RAF 1939 to 1945.

The sculptor – Andy Knighton is ready to take on the commission of creating The Stirling memorial aircraft sculpture. One of his previous pieces is a Lancaster at RAF East Kirkby (see photo).

Pledged funds so far are in excess of £11,000.

Project supported by Holkham and Walsingham Estates.

The aim is to submit drawings for planning approval by summer 2018

 

Fundraising plans

Funds needed

  • Approximately £30,000 is needed to create the memorial sculpture and associated structures.
  • Pledges are already being received from local landowners, businesses and interested individuals.
  • Walsingham Parish Council is administering the funds on behalf of the project.

The first fundraising activity is 'Drink to Remember' a memorial beer (see below for more details) which will be in production from February 2018 until the unveiling of the memorial in 2020.Each pint sold will contribute towards the memorial funds.

Other associated fun-filled 'Time to Remember' fundraising activities will be announced soon, including ‘Dance to Remember’ & ‘Cycle to Remember’.

Project supported by:

Holkham Estate, Walsingham Estate, Museums Norfolk, Walsingham Parish Council

Next Event

For more details on the planned auction click here 

Scroll through the auction lots

You don't have to come to bid on any of these auction lots - just drop us a line mail@controltowerstays.com

 

Drink to Remember

‘Drink to Remember’ is a hoppy amber bitter by Beeston Brewery with lightly toasted malts to give a full bodied fruity character will be launched the Winter Great British Beer Festival in Norwich on the 20th February 2018 and will be simultaneously available in selected pubs in North Norfolk. From April 2018 bottles will also be available.  The beer will be in production for the duration of the ‘Time to Remember’ campaign (ends August 2020).

Beeston / Control Tower Collaboration

Claire and Nigel are passionate about the Control Tower and its history but also are champions of all things Norfolk. They enjoy directing guests to local suppliers for all kinds of delicious Norfolk produce. They are lucky enough to have The Real Ale shop as their local and nearest shop which is where they first found ‘Stirling’ Beer by Beeston Brewery. The image on their bottles of Stirling is from a mural originally from a building almost next door to the Tower but is now preserved at RAF Hendon. That is why Beeston were the obvious choice to collaborate with on this memorial beer.

Drink to Remember - Where to buy the beer

From 20th February 2018 the following pubs will be serving Drink to Remember: – most of these would have served beer up to those who served at RAF North Creake:

Binham Chequers - http://www.binhamchequers.co.uk/

Black Lion – Little Walsingham - http://www.blacklionhotelnorfolk.co.uk/

The Carpenters Arms – Wighton - https://www.carpentersarmsnorfolk.co.uk/

The Lifeboat Inn – Wells-next-the-Sea http://www.wellsnextthesea.co.uk/bnb/detail/13/

The Three Horseshoes – Warham http://warhamhorseshoes.co.uk/

The Brisley Bell – Brisley https://www.thebrisleybell.co.uk/

 

From April 2018 bottles available from

The Real Ale Shop – mail order available http://www.therealaleshop.co.uk/

We need your help..

Join in to:

~  Spread the word  ~

~  Donate  ~

~  Buy the beer  ~

~  Subscribe to Control Tower Calling our newsletter  ~

 

Thanks

Claire & Nigel

RAF North Creake History

The Control Tower RAF North Creake Airfield 1945

Photo by Sgt Norman Turnbull - Caravan Controller

RAF North Creake 1944-45

Construction of RAF North Creake commenced in 1942 and was completed in 1943.  It was built during the period that is considered by many as the most extensive period of British military engineering in history.  1942 -1943 saw the construction of hundreds of military airfields in order to accommodate the American air force. RAF North Creake (operating as a RAF station and was named after a village 4 miles away from it) had in excess of 3,000 people stationed on it when operational within and beyond  the formerly quiet hamlet of Egmere in North Norfolk.  Flying heavy bombers in support of the bomber streams of bomber command, RAF North Creake became operational in 1944, flying their first operation in support of the D-Day landings on the night of the 5th June. 

Two RAF squadrons were based here; the 199, and the 171, both part of RAF 100 Group flying initially Stirling Bombers and latterly Halifax bombers. These were part of The 100 Group of Bomber Command and their role was to carry out secret radio counter measures.

The airfield was built very quickly by mostly Irish labour; it was a colossal military/civil engineering undertaking – the runways/hard-standings alone cost more than £300,000 with the buildings, our tower included, adding a very similar amount to the sum total.

RAF North Creake Disbandment Day

3rd August 1945

Aerial view of Control Tower and Technical Site

1944

FO Faulkner & LAC Harrison on duty at The Control Tower RAF North Creake

by Sgt Norman Turnbull September 1945

 

Key Facts

  

  • RAF 100 Group - Bomber Support arm of Bomber Command

  • Heavy Bomber Base for Stirlings and Halifax Aircraft

  • RAF 199 and 171 Squadrons

  • 3 Runways

  • 36 Hard standings

  • Domestic sites for 3,300 (2,900 men and 400 women)

  • Hangarage - 2 T2 style and 1 B1 Hangars (all still in situ)

  • Primarily carried out Radio Counter Measures - using

    • Mandrel (electronic jamming)

    • 'Window' (aluminium foil strips aka Chaff)

  • Code Name: WORKER

  • Code: NO

  • OS Ref TF899385

Timeline

 

-1941 Site opened as a Decoy Airfield for RAF Docking

-1942 Oct construction started to create a 'Class A' airfield

-1943 Nov the airfield becomes operational

-1943 Dec RAF 100 Group are allocated to North Creake Airfield

-1944 May 199 Squadron arrive at North Creake from Lakenheath - flying Stirling IIIs.

-1944 Jun - the first mission from North Creake Airfield - carrying out Radio Counter Measures in support of D-Day

-1944 Jun - just a few days later on 16th June the first loss - Aircraft N is missing (and never found). All crew lost.

-1944 Sep 171 Squadron formed at North Creake Airfield. Initially flying Stirling IIIs, these were subsequently replaced by Halifax IIIs

-1945 May during the final sortie two aircraft (both Halifax) collided just south of Kiel and are Bomber Command's last aircraft lost.

- 1945 Sep Put into care and maintenance and used for breaking Mosquito aircraft

- 1947 Sep North Creake Airfield closed and sold

Our love affair with the Control Tower...

  

The project began for us in October 2011 when we moved in to our beloved Control Tower.

Over the years the Tower has had many uses - from offices to flats, all of which helped to ensure its survival but have also taken their toll on its appearance.

Our major works are almost complete but we will never finish - the Control Tower is a job for life.

 Our Mission

  To restore the exterior to its 1943 iconic modernist look 

  To create a comfortable period home and B&B

  To nurture relaxing gardens to compliment the tower

We spent most of the first year clearing the area around the Control Tower - 160 40' leylandii trees, 500 tons of concrete (a post war yard), more rickety old sheds than you could shake a stick at, and lots of internal fencing. We then started landscaping (with a little help from our friends!).

Removing a 90s pitched roof was the most important part of returning the Control Tower to its correct modernist clean lines.It was breathtaking for us when the Control Tower looked the right shape.

Then on to windows, render... and the inside (plumbing, electrics, flooring, plastering... etc) - basically starting again.

We have tried to use the war time buildings - The Air Raid Shelter; Speech Broadcast Building and the Nissen Hut (original structure in a new position) to enhance the Control Tower and each has been given a new use. Even the Stirling Suite which is not an origional building has been given a 1940s look so it is more in keeping of its setting.

You can watch a film about the restoration of The Control Tower here: Norfolk Uncovered - The Story of The Control Tower, RAF North Creake

The best visual improvement we have made to the Tower internally and externally has been installing the Crittall style modern windows. Made by Met Therm the are just right for the building - fitted with incredible care and attention.