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.
The museum reveals the once secret story of RAF Defford with wartime artefacts, emotive personal possessions, videos and costume displays.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2016 saw the restoration of the Ambulance Garage, once part of the secret airbase of RAF Defford.
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.
New 'Cold War' display
New this summer is a display about the Cold War Years, the post-war years following the closure of RAF Defford with 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.
Women of RAF Defford display
By 1945, there were well over 2500 people at RAF Defford 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.
The museum is open from 11am until 4pm every day during the winter and 11am to 4.30pm during the summer.
Want to find out more?
Join one of our guided RAF Walks
The RAF Guided Walks will start at 11.00am, departing from the Visitor Centre and returning around 1pm.
These walks are very popular so booking is essential - tickets available at reception or phone 01905 371006 (please note numbers limited to 25) Sturdy walking shoes are advised.
RAF Walks in 2017 are scheduled for:
- Tuesday 29 August
- Sunday 3 September
- Tuesday 26 September
- Sunday 1 October.
Join our tour guide who will show you where during the Second World War, a substantial part of Croome Park was requisitioned for the building of a large military airfield, known as RAF Defford.
The RAF Walk highlights wartime locations and reveals how events changed the 18th century 'Capability' Brown landscape. There are also secrets waiting to be told along the route, for this was no ordinary airfield - top secret radar was tested here which helped to win the War.
Retrace their steps with our walks booklet
The footsteps of wartime personnel are followed in a RAF Defford walks booklet (£2 available from reception). Discover for yourself where the secret Second World War airbase once stood on a 2.8 mile walk around the park .
Find out more about a wartime romance at Croome
Romance blossomed between many civilians and service personnel.
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.
A new book, ‘Defford Airfield 1941-57’ produced by DAHG, is available to buy in the museum and the shop, priced £5.