Norfolk is home to many airfields used in both in WW1 and WWII.
These airfields have been chosen as a focus for the Heritage Trail .Some are still used as airfields , many have derelict buildings and pieces of concrete runways and often there are pillboxes and shelters still in existence.
From 1915, the major threat was perceived to be from Zeppelin raids, the first of which occurred on the night of 19-20th January 1915. Two massive German airships, designated L3 and L4, crossed the Norfolk coast between Cromer and Great Yarmouth at around 8pm. The L3 headed South East towards Yarmouth whilst the L4 set off North West up the coast, dropping bombs at Sheringham, Brancaster, Hunstanton and Heacham before attacking King’s Lynn, causing two fatalities. As a result of this threat, air defence became a priority and airfields sprang up all over Norfolk. The largest military aerodrome in the area and indeed the UK, during WW1, was at Narborough. It covered an area of over 900 acres, just to the North East of the present day airfield at Marham and close to the King’s Lynn to Swaffham railway line. It was originally chosen by the Admiralty in 1915 as a night landing ground for home defence. It was taken over by the Royal Flying Corps in 1916 as a training field for Squadrons prior to deployment in France. Between then and closure in December 1919, the aerodrome expanded dramatically, with the construction of six hangars and other facilities After the armistice in 1918 and the treaty of Versailles, the coffers for defence spending were empty so it was inevitable that the services, including the RAF would be run down and it was not until the mid 1920s that any expansion was begun. In this area, it was at Bircham Newton where the WW1 airfield was upgraded to a base for heavy bombers, albeit with no hard runways. A decade was to pass before the government woke up to the fact that Germany was re-arming and an expansion programme was begun with new bomber bases being built at Marham and Feltwell. This was followed in 1937 by construction of Watton and West Raynham. Following the Munich conference in 1938, the declaration of war in 1939 and the arrival of the Americans in 1942, expansion continued apace until the Norfolk landscape was almost wall-to-wall airfields. At the end of the war, there were no fewer than 37 major military airfields in the county.
The Aviation Heritage Centre charts the history of RAF Marham from its opening in 1916 up to the current day.
Opening times: Tuesday and Wednesday, 9am to 4pm and the last Saturday of every month, 9:30am to 4pm.
RAF Horsham St Faith
The museum started out as an aviation enthusiasts group for members of the Eastern Counties Omnibus Company way back in 1977. The membership was later opened up to non employees and a temporary site was secured on the 17/35 runway at Norwich Airport.
The museum, which is located on the site of the world’s longest continuously operating radar site, provides a unique window into the history of radar and is a great day out in Norfolk, for all the family. The museum is located at Neatishead, close to Horning and the Broads.
Over 60s £9.00
Children (6yrs - 16yrs) £5.00
Family Ticket (2 Adults and up to 3 children) £25
Under 6’s Free
Models erected for the 2018 trail
Click on the photo
Grid of photographs for the decorated planes to download
Cycle Sportive for 2019
In September 2019 we hope to run a day long sportive visiting many airfields, reading the history displayed on the information boards and seeing some of the fibreglass aircraft that will be re located on buildings for 2019
The sportive will begin at Royal Air Force Marham. Food, admin and refreshments will be available at the start and at feed stations. Three different length routes, using minor roads where possible