RAF museum on Lincoln school site moves a step closer

Hopes of a RAF museum on the site of a Lincoln school have gathered pace with the appointment of a new curator.

William Farr School in Welton has close ties to the force due to the school being built on the site of RAF Dunholme Lodge.

As previously reported, the school plans to create a museum to celebrate and preserve the history of the lodge, and has constructed a special Nissen Hut to house the artefacts collected over recent years.

William Farr head teacher Andy Stones with the compass and radio receiver.

William Farr head teacher Andy Stones with the compass and radio receiver.

In December 2013, the project was gifted a genuine wartime Lancaster compass. Following this in March 2014, a rare R1155 Lancaster radio was donated to the school to add to its collection.

The project has now progressed with the appointment of former RAF intelligence officer, Brian Riley, as curator of the Dunholme Lodge Heritage Centre.

Brian has started cataloguing the large number of possible exhibits gifted to the school, enlisting the help of a conservation specialist from Suffolk for advice on how to best display and preserve the material they have.

He has also discovered foundations of many of the old RAF Dunholme buildings in woods behind the school, and is now working with a woodland management team to uncover the remains.

The site has a proud history of Lincolnshire aviation, dating back to 1941 when the RAF first used the airfield.

It was officially opened as an RAF station in September 1942 as part of RAF Bomber Command with the building of three hard runways.

The main occupier of the station was 44 Squadron, with the Avro Lancaster four-engined heavy bomber, which moved in from RAF Waddington in May 1943, and stayed until it moved to RAF Spilsby in September 1944.

At its height RAF Dunholme Lodge housed 2,000 staff and 60 Lancasters and was one of the most important bases in the county.

Flying operations ceased in November due to the proximity of other stations which did not allow night flying. At the end of the war, 120 Lancasters had been lost on operations from Dunholme Lodge.

Towards the end of the war, the base was used for the manufacture of large gliders which were vital to operations in Germany.

Brian said: “I’m really excited about the project and honoured to be playing a key role in its creation.

“I’m particularly interested in the social history of the base, as well as its military heritage. The effect of the massive construction effort and the introduction of 2,000 people to such a small village must have been profound.

“We want to tell the story of the base and its staff, the sacrifices they made but also the part it played in the village as a whole.”

A temporary display will be installed in the centre by April, in time for the annual reunion of the 619 squadron at the school, with the project completed later this year.

The centre is now appealing for photographs and artefacts that may still be in the community.

Anyone who has material or stories can contact Brian on b.riley@williamfarr.lincs.sch.uk.