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Sector Operations Building and blast walls at the former RAF Kirton in Lindsey

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

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Coordinates

Latitude: 53.4687 / 53°28'7"N

Longitude: -0.5797 / 0°34'46"W

OS Eastings: 494376

OS Northings: 397827

OS Grid: SK943978

Mapcode National: GBR SXDB.98

Mapcode Global: WHGH0.226M

Entry Name: Sector Operations Building and blast walls at the former RAF Kirton in Lindsey

Listing Date: 22 October 2014

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1422117

Location: Kirton in Lindsey, North Lincolnshire, DN21

County: North Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: 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

Sector Operations Room, constructed 1940.

Description

Sector Operations Building, designed by J.H Binge of the Air Ministry to design 5000/37 in approximately 1940 to co-ordinate and control British and allies fighter interception with enemy aircraft.

MATERIALS: brick and reinforced concrete.

PLAN: a roughly square building.

EXTERIOR: the exterior elevations comprise brick laid in either English or Flemish bond, the brick beneath the height of the blast wall being red in colour with a buff brick used above. The roof is flat, and of thick reinforced concrete, possibly with a brick parapet. The principal entrances are to the east and west, via angled passages through the blast walls. Each elevation has Crittall windows with concrete lintels and cills. On the west elevation are copper telecommunications or electricity supply points.

INTERIOR: the principal space is the operations room located centrally to the building on a lower level accessed by two flights of three concrete steps, one of which retains its contemporary handrail. The plotting table would have been located, surrounded on two sides by a raised platform defined by a modern balustrade where plant, and ventilation rooms. The operations room does not retain any contemporary fixtures and fittings, with the exception of joinery; a modern bar counter and some wall art depicting a spitfire is later C20 in date. To the east is a suite of ancillary rooms which probably included a workshop, battery room and meterorological office. The internal layout remains, but most fixtures and fittings are modern with the exception of some doors, contemporary light fittings and joinery.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURE: concrete blast walls surround the building on all sides with angled openings on the east and west sides. The blast walls are protected by an outer earth bund.

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 Building. 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’ who 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 Control Tower (described separately) and the Sector Operations Building which is similarly little altered, although the main operations room has been used as a bar, and no contemporary equipment remains.

Reasons for Listing

The Sector Operations Room 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 Sector Operations Room 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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