26th Oct, 2016

Work starts to restore piece of history

Evesham Editorial 27th Feb, 2015 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

THE SECOND phase of restoration work to a Second World War medical complex which was part of a secret wartime airbase and had stood derelict for decades, has begun.

Tens of thousands of pounds in funding from an anonymous donor has enabled the historic Ambulance Garage, to begin its journey of restoration.

The historic venue is one of six surviving buildings that are part of RAF Defford’s Second World War hospital at Croome, the National Trust property near Pershore.

Croome’s General Manager Michael-Forster Smith said staff and volunteers were excited the restoration work had finally begun.

“The first building was restored back in 2007 and is now our restaurant.” he said.

“We’ve carried on this work and last year we opened a museum which has already been a huge success with more than 10,000 people visiting since it opened in September.

“The former Ambulance Garage building, which was part of the wartime hospital, will be another important addition to the museum.

“This is great news, as there is a real appetite from our visitors to know more about the airbase and it’s wartime history.” he added.

During the Second World War and into the Cold War which followed, the RAF Defford airbase, built partly on the grounds of Croome, was one of the most secret places in the country.

War-winning radar inventions were developed, tested and installed in aircraft at RAF Defford.

The former Ambulance Garage, built in the 1940s, housed the ambulances often used to shuttle personnel to the sick quarters.

It will become another important space used by the National Trust and Defford Airfield Heritage Group to help tell the story of the airfield, the development of radar and of the 2,000 people that worked there.

Restoration of the building has only been made possible thanks to a very generous donation towards the £100,000 project and it is hoped that this building will be open to the public later this year.

The museum is open every day from 10.30am until 4.30pm and visitors can find out more about at our forthcoming RAF Defford weekend on Saturday, July 11 and Sunday, July 12 from 10am to 5pm.

Croome is open throughout the winter. The park and lakeside are open from 10am until 5.30pm every day and Croome Court is open every day from 11am to 4.30pm, except Tuesdays.

Call 01905 371006 visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/croome or follow @NTCroome on Twitter for more information.

Dennis Crump (left), civilian ambulance driver and medical officer (right) in wartime ambulance at RAF Defford. Picture by Dennis Crump

Work begins on the ambulance garage with Bob Shaw (left) and Dennis Williams of Defford Airfield Heritage Group with Sarah Fowler (middle), surveyor. Picture by Tracey Blackwell