Image courtesy of Stuart Thurtle
RAF Coltishall now has a heritage centre in the former Main Guardroom to commemorate the history of the only Battle of Britain Station to operate fighters throughout its operational life. A formal ceremony was held on Wednesday 23 June 2021, a date significant in that it was this day in 1940 when the Station was first declared operational.
During its 66 year life, RAF Coltishall was always at the forefront of the defence of the Realm and a major element in the life of the County of Norfolk. The new Heritage Centre, housed in the former Main Guardroom (a heritage asset in its own right), is at the entrance to what is now Scottow Enterprise Park. On display are items that reflect the complete history of the Station. Of special note is the Reconnaissance Collection with mobile cabins and specialist equipment that supported the Jaguar in its airborne photographic role
In addition to exhibition rooms, the Heritage Centre houses Lecture and Education facilities.
It is also planned to be home to a weekly veterans’ group for meetings. Further development of other areas of the building is being planned which will enhance the display of items particularly from the Jaguar era. The Trust also intends to hold events throughout the year and will also host group visits on a regular basis.
The RAF Coltishall Heritage Centre was formally opened by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Norfolk Group Captain Stewart Blackburn MBE DL and the ceremony was hosted by the Trust Patron, Air Marshal Sir Christopher Harper KBE MA CCMI RAF.
(A former Jaguar pilot, squadron and station commander at RAF Coltishall). Guests included the Chair and several councillors of Norfolk County Council and other notable guests from the Norfolk community.
The event included three flypasts by a Hurricane and Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. The aircraft were flown by OC BBMF Sqn Ldr Mark Discombe and OC RAF Coningsby Gp Capt Matt Peterson, both of whom are former Jaguar pilots who served at RAF Coltishall.
The RAF Coltishall Heritage exhibits are based on the privately-owned collection belonging to Mick Jennings MBE, who was the Station Historian and Media and Communications Officer until the Station closed in 2006. His collection, which he has gifted to the Trust, has been considerably enhanced since.
All images courtesy of Stuart Thurtle