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 World War II. 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. A historic Canberra aircraft cockpit is inside with displays telling the story of airborne radar research at Pershore after Defford closed for flying in 1957.
The museum is open from 11am until 4pm every day.
The footsteps of wartime personnel are followed in a RAF Defford walks booklet (available from reception) showing a 2.8 mile walk around the park where the secret Second World War airbase once stood.
Women of RAF Defford exhibition
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.
See our Women of Defford exhibition in the museum, opened in 2016.
Defford Airfield Heritage Group (DAHG)
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.