RAF Defford

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

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
Black and white aerial image of sick quarters at RAF Defford

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.

Join us and learn more about RAF Defford
RAF servicemen talking to each other

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
Wartime teamwork, RAF, RAAF, WAAF & TRE

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

Ambulance garage restoration work commencing soon
Three people stood outside the unrestored ambulance garage

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

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.

RAF museum Cold War exhibition
RAF Museum Cold War exhibition

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.

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

Opening times

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 now finished, further dates will be added for 2018 in due course, please check back.

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 .

Purchase a copy of the RAF Defford Walk booklet
The RAF Defford Walk booklet

Find out more about a wartime romance at Croome

Romance blossomed between many civilians and service personnel.

Read about a wartime romance at RAF Defford

Lieutenant George Hogarth and Petty Officer Wendy Jones
Wendy Hogarth Wedding closeup

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 World War 2 and the people who contributed so much to the Allied victory, this may be the place for you to volunteer. 

To find out more, cphone 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 new book, ‘Defford Airfield 1941-57’  produced by DAHG, is available to buy in the museum and the shop, priced £5.

New DAHG guidebook available.
DAHG guidebook front cover