A civil servant by day who has a passion for exploring what Great Britain has to offer in my spare time.
Published January 4th 2016
Experiencing life at a WW2 RAF station in Lincolnshire
During the Second World War, Royal Air Force Stations had to be built as a matter of urgency so that the RAF had sufficient bases for the aircraft and troops. After the war, many fell eerily silent and forgotten but one, at East Kirkby in Lincolnshire, was rescued by two local farmers, Fred and Harold Panton. Thanks to their foresight, the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre is one of Britain's best preserved former WW2 airfields and forms a superb museum.
I visited out of season on a day when it refused to stop raining although rain will not put you off a visit! Your entrance fee allows you to visit all the open buildings and hangers on site. The staff are very friendly and welcoming, many of whom are volunteers who help to run the centre and restore the numerous buildings and exhibits. And there's a lot of work to do to keep the place going!
Avro Lancaster Bomber 'Just Jane' at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre
The flagship piece of the collection in my view has to be the Avro Lancaster Bomber 'Just Jane'. You have to see it to be completely overwhelmed by the size of the plane. Not only is the Lancaster an engineering masterpiece, it's also a work of art. The Lancaster is undergoing restoration at present but it's hoped it will return to flying in the future.
The main hanger is where the Lancaster is housed plus countless other exhibits. A fabulous American Dakota is on display plus a wide range of vintage vehicles which were used in the Second World War. Down one side of the hanger is an exhibition of items discovered in archaeological digs in the local vicinity. This is a more sombre part of the exhibition but it's nevertheless important to remember that pilots, crew and civilians gave their lives during the war years and the artefacts on display reflect that.
A number of the original buildings on the base have been restored. This includes the control tower where it is possible to see the equipment that was used on a day to day basis. This was very much the nerve centre of operations at the base. There is a memorial to those stationed at East Kirkby who lost their lives during the war. There are also exhibitions on life during the war plus a recreated training classroom in one of the finely preserved huts.
Recreated RAF station training classroom at Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre
The museum is open most of the year bar a couple of weeks around Christmas and New Year. There are a number of special events during the season, when aircraft and vehicles are in operation. Aircraft fly in to East Kirkby from time to time.
Whilst there were many dangers and horrors in the Second World War, there was also a real sense of community at East Kirkby. This atmosphere has been lovingly and honestly revived at the centre. If you want to try and understand what life was like at such a base in the war years, a visit is a must.