Latest Update 2012 on work by RAF Ibsley Airfield Heritage Trust on the Control Tower restoration work at R.A.F. Ibsley Tower.
Report from RAF Ibsley Airfield Heritage Trust – 07-10-10
The RAF Ibsley Historical Group was established in 1992 as a membership organisation with the purpose of researching, interpreting and preserving the history of RAF Ibsley. It also set itself the task of preserving for posterity the best parts of the airfield infrastructure still remaining, the Control Tower being the most important.
Despite the impressive achievements of the Group since then in bringing together the stories, memorabilia and former service personnel from around the world, holding exhibitions and publishing a book about the airfield’s role in the 2nd World War, it has yet to secure the preservation of the airfield buildings and infrastructure that escaped dismantling or destruction in the years after the war.
Two years ago it was decided that a different type of organisation could have more success in delivering this ambition, which would work alongside and complement the Group’s activities, but be able to form partnerships and working programmes with key agencies, organisations and authorities. In February this year a meeting was held at Moyles Court School with representatives of these bodies to discuss the proposals.
In April a charitable company limited by guarantee was incorporated, named the RAF Ibsley Airfield Heritage Trust. In its initial five year draft development plan and strategy the Trust has determined that its defined objects can only be achieved through partnership working.
The RAF Ibsley Airfield Heritage Trust first objective is to obtain survey reports* on remaining New Forest airfield related structures and infrastructure to establish type, use, exact locations and current condition. Initially this will be on land owned by the National Trust, but, subject to owners’ permissions, would eventually encompass the former airfield and dispersal/communal sites.
These reports will include a gazetteer of the structures, an airfield history (covering the 2nd World War to the present day, drawn from the work of the Historical Group and primary and secondary sources at the National Archive and RAF Museum), a construction record (the development of the airfield and context of the site in relation to others in the UK) as well as structural surveys and conservation requirements where recommended.
These reports will help the Trust determine its order of priority, and modifications required to its business plan, to preserve these structures for the future. The surveys will be undertaken by an authority in this field, the Airfield Research Group, which has worked extensively for English Heritage and the National Trust.
Alongside this work the Trust is in the early stages of researching and developing education, oral history and interpretation programmes and trails in conjunction with the National Trust, National Park Authority (to dovetail with their WW II project), local schools and, in particular, Moyles Court School.
It is hoped these projects would extend to include the airfield area itself in the future, working in conjunction with the land-owners and their agents, and would encompass all phases of the story of RAF Ibsley.
The siting of an interpretation centre at Moyles Court, which would also provide exhibition and artefact/records storage space, has been agreed in principle with the school.
This is a very brief overview of the Airfield Heritage Trust’s inception, purpose and first-phase plans for the preservation and interpretation of RAF Ibsley, but it is cautioned that the delivery of several of the projects will be dependent on the success of grant-funding applications.
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