RAF Defford Museum at Croome

Some of the Second World War buildings, once the Sick Quarters for the RAF Defford airbase, still remain and have been restored as Croome’s visitor centre and museum.

Museum

The museum reveals the once secret story of RAF Defford with wartime artefacts, emotive personal possessions, videos and costume displays.

Lots to see in our museum
Inside the RAF Defford museum
Lots to see in our museum

Much of the land required for RAF Defford was requisitioned from the Earl of Coventry in 1940, with the station’s technical area being built on the eastern part of Croome park. The laying of the runways necessitated the closure of a public road, and extended across Defford Common.

Aerial image of RAF Defford Station Sick Quarters © Crown copyright reserved
Black and white aerial image of sick quarters at RAF Defford
Aerial image of RAF Defford Station Sick Quarters © Crown copyright reserved

Various communal and domestic sites, including the Station Sick Quarters, were clustered around Croome Court, the ancestral home of the Earls of Coventry, to house over 2,000 service personnel and scientists who tested radar at this secret airbase to meet new enemy threats.

RAF Defford became the main station in Britain for the development of airborne radar during and after the Second World War.  The airfield housed the Telecommunications Flying Unit (TFU), carrying out flight trials for the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE), which had moved from Worth Matravers to Malvern in May 1942.

Join us and learn more about RAF Defford © Crown copyright reserved
RAF servicemen talking to each other
Join us and learn more about RAF Defford © Crown copyright reserved

The experiments and developments carried out at Defford were of great historic significance, for they played a vital part in helping the Allies to win the war, and paved the way for many electronic applications that we now take for granted.

Wartime teamwork, RAF, RAAF, WAAF & TRE © Crown copyright reserved
Wartime teamwork, RAF, RAAF, WAAF & TRE
Wartime teamwork, RAF, RAAF, WAAF & TRE © Crown copyright reserved

Ambulance Garage

2016 saw the restoration of the Ambulance Garage, once part of the secret airbase of RAF Defford. 

Croome ambulance garage before restoration
Croome ambulance garage before restoration
Croome ambulance garage before restoration

In the Ambulance Garage, the forward section of a 1951 Canberra bomber gives you an idea of what flying in the RAF would be like after the war. 

Forward section of a Canberra bomber
Visitors looking at the section of a Canberra bomber
Forward section of a Canberra bomber

Armstrong Whitworth Meteor

Carefully restored, an exciting new exhibit further brings to life the story of the secret radar work undertaken at this historically significant site.  This aircraft, a Meteor NF11 night fighter, serial number WD686, was the last to leave Defford Airfield, flying out in March 1958 and will be on show until June 2020.

Restored Armstrong Whitworth Meteor with RAF Defford Museum volunteers
Gloster Meteor WD686 at Croome
Restored Armstrong Whitworth Meteor with RAF Defford Museum volunteers

'Cold War' display

We have a display about the Cold War Years, which saw the closure of Defford Airfield following the arrival of V-bombers, and the move of the staff and aircraft to Pershore Airfield.  The development of radar and infra-red systems changed after the war, as the Cold War brought new challenges and more sophisticated systems, taking the story up to the closure of RSRE Pershore in 1977.

RAF museum Cold War exhibition
RAF Museum Cold War exhibition
RAF museum Cold War exhibition

Women of RAF Defford display

By 1945, there were well over 2,500 people at RAF Defford, and up to 600 were women. They played an essential role in the fight to stay ahead of the enemy in the battle of the air waves and our display tells their story.

So much to learn in the museum
A display in the RAF Defford museum
So much to learn in the museum

Would you like to volunteer at RAF Defford Museum?

Our volunteers are keen to share these stories with visitors and to hear the tales that visitors bring to us.  If you are interested in the history of the Second World War and the people who contributed so much to the Allied victory, this may be the place for you to volunteer. 

To find out more, phone us on 01905 371006, or email: croome@nationaltrust.org.uk 

Defford Airfield Heritage Group (DAHG) website

Preserving the history of Defford Airfield, the DAHG is an official National Trust supporter group who work closely with the team at Croome on many projects.

Visit their website for more information

A book, ‘Defford Airfield 1941-57’ produced by DAHG, is available to buy in the museum and the shop, priced £5.

The DAHG guidebook.
DAHG guidebook front cover
The DAHG guidebook.