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Control Tower at the former RAF Kirton in Lindsey

A Grade II Listed Building in Kirton in Lindsey, North Lincolnshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.4658 / 53°27'56"N

Longitude: -0.5792 / 0°34'45"W

OS Eastings: 494415

OS Northings: 397503

OS Grid: SK944975

Mapcode National: GBR SXDC.DB

Mapcode Global: WHGH0.24GW

Entry Name: Control Tower at the former RAF Kirton in Lindsey

Listing Date: 22 October 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1422114

Location: Kirton in Lindsey, North Lincolnshire, DN21

County: North Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Kirton in Lindsey

Built-Up Area: Kirton in Lindsey

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Kirton-in-Lindsey St Andrew

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

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Kirton in Lindsey

Summary

Control Tower of 1940.

Description

A Second World War Control Tower of Air Ministry design 2328/39, colloquially known as the ‘villa’ type, constructed in approximately 1940.

MATERIALS: reinforced concrete with an internal reinforced concrete staircase stair and roof.

EXTERIOR: a two-storey structure, which on the flying field elevation has horizontally-banded glazing to the ground-floor watch office. On the first floor is a recessed control room with oversailing balcony and metal balustrade to the front wrapping around the east and west elevations. The control room has curved corners in the moderne style with extensive horizontal glazing. The flat roof above has a concrete parapet. At the rear is a projecting stair turret with a flat roof, narrow stair lights and a single occulus at each elevation near to the cornice. A single storey side porch leads into the base of the turret. The east and west elevations have individual windows at the ground and first floors.

INTERIOR: the interior plan remains largely unaltered. On the ground floor the room divisions for the watch office, forecast room, duty pilots' rest room and teleprinter room remain. The rear stairs, with simple metal balusters and a timber handrail, lead to the first-floor where the room divisions largely remain, and then onto the roof above. No contemporary equipment is present.

History

An airfield was first established to the north of the village of Kirton in Lindsey in 1916 by the Royal Flying Corps as a Home Defence Station but was closed in 1919 and the land reverted back to agriculture. An airfield with permanent accommodation was re-established during the late 1930s, built to the south-east of the village, and opened in May 1940. Its main role was as an air defence fighter station and it was equipped with three C-Type hangars and a control tower (type 2328/39). To the north of these buildings were a standard suite of technical buildings, a parade square surrounded by barrack accommodation and an institute, sergeants’ and other ranks' messes. The family accommodation and officers’ mess are located separately to the east of the site and are not for disposal.

Its main role during Second World War was as a fighter station covering central and north-east England, as part of 12 Group Fighter Command. Arranged around the flying field which had two grass runways were temporary blister hangars, 10 hardstandings and fighter dispersal pens. Three Pickett-Hamilton rectractable pillboxes and a battle headquarters are documented on the flying field but are no longer evident. In 1940 it was designated as Sector Headquarters, one of 16 in the UK, controlled from the Sector Operations Room. Its sector comprised an east to west swathe from Easington on the east coast to Sheffield and Manchester to Liverpool.

Although not as heavily engaged as 11 Group in the south-east, aircraft from Kirton took part in the Battle of Britain including protecting convoys during the battle. A large number of units used the airfield including the volunteer American ‘Eagle Squadron’ which fought alongside the British before the USA entered the war. In June 1942, the 94th Squadron of the 1st Fight Group United States Army Air Force (USAAF) arrived at Kirton, renaming it Station 349. After USAAF and two Polish fighter squadrons had departed by April 1943, the airfield took on a mainly training role, a function it continued after the war until 1966 when the base was transferred to the Royal Artillery and re-named Rapier Barracks. It remained in army hands until it reverted back to the RAF in 2004 as the Air Control Centre. The flying field and its runways are in use by the glider club.

The site was said to be a near complete example of an Expansion Period RAF base at the time of closure, but most of the buildings have been individually altered apart from the Sector Operations Building (described separately) and the Control Tower which is largely as designed, with the exception of the Crittall windows which have been replaced with sympathetic alternatives.

Reasons for Listing

The Control Tower at the former RAF Kirton in Lindsey, constructed in approximately 1940, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural interest: it has intrinsic architectural interest as a significant building type associated with the development of Second World War military aviation sites, retaining most of its historic fabric and interior layout;
* Rarity: it is a nationally rare, little altered example of this particular control tower type;
* Historic interest: for its historical association with the Battle of Britain and subsequent military activity during the Second World War at the former RAF Kirton in Lindsey.

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