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RAF Davidstow Moor, Turret Instructional Building

A Grade II Listed Building in Davidstow, Cornwall

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Coordinates

Latitude: 50.6424 / 50°38'32"N

Longitude: -4.6232 / 4°37'23"W

OS Eastings: 214620

OS Northings: 85806

OS Grid: SX146858

Mapcode National: GBR N7.8S9L

Mapcode Global: FRA 176C.NPW

Entry Name: RAF Davidstow Moor, Turret Instructional Building

Listing Date: 1 July 2011

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1403176

Location: Davidstow, Cornwall, PL32

County: Cornwall

Civil Parish: Davidstow

Traditional County: Cornwall

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cornwall

Church of England Parish: Davidstow

Church of England Diocese: Truro

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Summary

Turret instructional building, built in 1942, located within the N part of the technical site at RAF Davidstow Moor.

Description

The building is a tall, but single storey, two-roomed, rendered, concrete block built structure with a pitched corrugated asbestos roof. The principal N elevation is dominated by a pair of large doorways with louvres above contained within pronounced buttressed door cases. Either side of the doorways are narrow and tall windows with their original metal frames. The gable walls are plain with narrow central buttresses extending to the height of the ridge. The S wall has two large boarded windows and two equally spaced full height buttresses.

Interior: Two rooms separated by a solid concrete block wall accessed separately through the large doorways in the N wall. In both rooms, a short distance below the roof is a suspended ceiling formed by a wooden frame with the original white board screen surviving in places. On the eastern wall in the western room is an original electrical fitting.

History

The land for RAF Davidstow Moor was acquired in 1941 by the Air Ministry Works Department. The majority of the work was carried out in 1942 by Taylor Woodrow (buildings), L.J. Speight (runways), Glovers of Manchester for exterior electrics with Buchannan and Curwen being responsible for interior electrical work. Archaeological excavations in advance of construction work were carried out by Croft Andrew. The station opened on 1st October 1942 and became home to Coastal Command squadrons involved in Air Sea Rescue [ASR], U-Boat hunting and anti-shipping patrols. Personnel came from the UK, Canada, United States, Poland, Australia, New Zealand, Czechoslovakia and Holland.

The turret instructional building conforms to Air Ministry design 11023/40 and was built to train air gunners. In the centre of the room there was an electrically operated gun turret in which the trainee sat and the surrounding walls and ceiling formed a screen onto which films of attacking aircraft were projected. The trainee gunners would fire simulated bursts of fire created by a powerful light and the instructor would assess their performance. Engine noise and gunfire from speakers within the room made the exercise as realistic as possible.

Considerable quantities of contemporary documentation survive relating to operations carried out from RAF Davidstow Moor. The base was placed on a care and maintenance footing in September 1944, used for training up to October 1945 and finally closed in December 1945. Since this time it has returned primarily to agricultural use, but was used for motor-racing for a short time and is still used by micro-light aircraft. There are two separate museums on the site and a memorial stone was erected in August 2003.

Reasons for Listing

The turret instructional building at RAF Davidstow Moor is designated at grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as part of the surviving buildings at this former Coastal Command aerodrome, showing the provision of training facilities on an operational station
* Rarity and intactness: as a well-preserved example of this unusual building type
* Group value: for its connection with the adjacent bombing teacher building

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