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Historic England Research Records

Raf Waddington

Hob Uid: 1411937
Location :
North Kesteven
Waddington, Bracebridge Heath, Harmston, Branston And Mere
Grid Ref : SK9900064200
Summary : A military airfield, used in both World Wars and Post-War. It opened in 1916. During World War One it was a training station, possibly equipped with Belfast Truss aircraft hangars. The airfield was altered and expanded in the 1920s and 1930s. The role of the airfield in World War Two was as an operational Bomber Command station attached to 5 Group. It was equipped with three concrete runways and five aircraft hangars (Type C). There was permanent accommodation for 2085 male and 390 female personnel. Post war it was used by jet bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. It remains in use as a Royal Air Force station. Some of the earlier airfield buildings have been built over, see SK 96 SE 35.
More information : AIRFIELD, SK 987 647. Site Recorder's Form

Recorder- A. Kershaw. (1)

Waddington Airfield, Linclonshire, SK 982 630. Opened in 1916. The role of the airfield in World War Two was as an operational Bomber Command station attached to 5 Group. It was equipped with three concrete runways and five aircraft hangars (Type C). There was permanent accommodation for 2085 male and 390 female personnel. (2)

RAF Waddington's own official website includes an "e-museum" with a history of the development of the airfield, from a WWI training station through the expansion period of the 1920s and 1930s to World War Two and its use for heavy bombers on to the Post-War deployment of jet bombers and reconnaisance aircraft. the website text is supported by numerous photographs. (3)

Belfast Truss type aircraft hangars were photographed at Waddington in the interwar years. (4-5)

English Heritage has been asked to consider listing the former watch office at RAF Waddington. It is part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) estate which is due for redevelopment and expansion. The Watch Office is not situated within the Waddington Conservation Area.
English Heritage is grateful to the applicant for the efforts taken to research this building and supplying the supporting photographs and written material.
RAF Waddington opened in 1916 as a training airfield but was closed between 1919 and 1926, when an RAF reserve unit, No. 503 Squadron was formed to fly Fairey light bombers. Extensive permanent buildings were constructed at Waddington during the 1930s, including five Type C hangars, and in May 1937 Nos.50 and 110 Squadrons were formed under Bomber Command. By the end of that year there were five squadrons based at Waddington mainly flying Hinds. The type 5845/39 watch office was erected in 1939.
Waddington was the premier station of No. 5 Bomber Group and in November 1940 No. 207 Squadron received the first Avro Manchester medium bombers, and flew the first active mission with them in February 1941, bombing the Brest docks. The airfield was bombed in its turn on 9 May 1941, and in November No. 44 Squadron (RAF Waddington) was the first unit to be equipped with the new Avro Lancaster heavy bomber. It is suggested that Waddington was the first to deploy them on active duties when No. 44 Squadron attacked Essen in March 1942.
In April 1942, Squadron Leader John Nettleton (No. 44 Squadron) was awarded the Victoria Cross (the first to be associated with the war's most celebrated bomber), for his role in the daylight raids on Augsberg. Waddington was closed in May 1942 while three new concrete runways, perimeter hardstanding and staff accommodation were built. On re-opening in October 1943, the Australian Squadrons Nos. 463 and 467 flew Lancasters, notably on the raid over Berlin in November 1943. It is noted that RAF Waddington lost more bombers on operations than any other Bomber Command station; 345 in total.
During the later history of the station, Canberra bombers were deployed at Waddington, to be replaced in the late 1950s by the Vulcan bombers. In 1982 one of the last deployments of Vulcan bombers flew from RAF Waddington to attack the airfield at Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands.
The Air Force watch office is of fifteen-inch cavity brick walling with reinforced concrete floors and roof. It is arranged on a square plan over two floors. A raised staircase tower with a balloon room rises from the flat roof. The original first-floor curved balcony remains in front of the control room, but all of the double steel windows at this level, and to the floor below (the watch room) have been bricked up. The remainder of the fenestration has either been replaced with uPVC windows or converted to doorways. The roof parapet has been extended to encompass the entire roof, in place of the original steel railings, and a c.1980 single-storey building has been added to the north-east elevation, and a doorway knocked through to the watch office interior.
Internally, the doorway from the c.1980 building leads to a corridor which has been created out of the former weather forecast room, and there have been minor changes to the disposition of the interior rooms, usually by means of repositioning doorways. All of the doors and interior fittings post-date the 1960s with the exception of the pre-cast concrete dog-leg staircase with its thick, square, iron balusters and ramped handrail.
The Military Buildings Selection Guide (English Heritage, March 2007) states that while aerodromes have strong local resonances, designation is only appropriate for a selection of sites. Selection principles include rarity, relative intactness, technical or structural interest, group value and operational importance.
There are fifteen listed military control towers in England, all of which are Grade II and all of which have been listed since October 2002. There is one example represented in the List of type 2072/26 (1926, Catterick), one of type 1959/34 (1934, Bassingbourn), two of 5845/39 (1939, West Malling and Swanton Morley), one of 7345/41 (1941, Alconbury), one of 12096/41, four of 12779/41, two of 13726/41, two of 343/43 and one of 5223a/51.
The 5845/39 type watchtower, built to a standardised design by the Air Ministry's Directorate of Work, specifically for the 'expansion period' was one of the most common types to be found on British military airfields. They have no particular claims to special technical or structural interest, although the type has its place in the evolution of the military watch tower. While they are not known to survive in huge numbers, there are towers of this type still in existence, including the two listed examples, and therefore are not considered to have rarity value.
The architectural interest of the former watchtower at RAF Waddington has been very severely compromised by the degree of alteration which has taken place since the 1960s, notably the large c.1980 addition and the loss of the double steel blast windows at ground and first floor. The replacement uPVC windows, the creation of new external doors, an inserted internal corridor, and replacement of all the original fittings and fixtures, with the exception of the staircase, also compromise its interest. The two Grade II listed watch offices of this type at West Malling and Swanton Morley are demonstrably superior in this respect, and a comparison highlights the fact that the Waddington watch office is too altered to merit designation on grounds of special architectural interest alone.
While it is true that RAF Waddington can lay claims to historical significance, for example its association with Bomber Command, the fact that it not only lost more bombers than any other RAF station, but is also credited with the first Lancaster bomber to fly one hundred missions, unfortunately claims to special historic interest within the national context do not outweigh the building's poor level of intactness.
There are no listed buildings currently on the airfield, and therefore there are no group value considerations.
The Type 5845/39 Watch Office at RAF Waddington, North Kesteven Lincolnshire (SK9854864961) has been too altered and does not meet the criteria for listing.
Paul Francis, British Military Airfield Architecture, Sparkford (1996), 120-124
Patrick Otter, Lincolnshire Airfields in the Second World War (1996), 239-248
RAF Museum, Hendon, Drawings Collection
Public Records Office AIR 28 (Operations Record Book)
http://www.controltowers.co.uk. Accessed on 15 February 2010
http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/s82.html. Accessed on 15 February 2010
http://www.raf-lincolnshire.info/bombercommand.htm (6)

Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source details : Defence of Britain Database record.
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Source Number : 2
Source : Military airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945
Source details :
Page(s) : 204
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Source Number : 3
Source : World Wide Web page
Source details : MoD and Deltaweb. Crown Copyright 2004. "RAF Waddington: History"; http://www.raf.mod.uk/rafwaddington/museum.htmllast updated 08-SEP-2004; accessed 12-JUL-2005.
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Source Number : 4
Source : Airfield review
Source details :
Page(s) : 39
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Vol(s) : 83, 1999
Source Number : 5
Source : Externally held archive reference
Source details : Oblique air photograph held in Imperial War Museum: IWM Q 70556.
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Source Number : 6
Source : English Heritage Listing File
Source details : Heritage Protection Adviser 02-NOV-2010
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : World War I from 1916
Monument End Date : 1918
Monument Start Date : 1916
Monument Type : Airfield, Military Airfield, Belfast Truss Aircraft Hangar
Evidence : Documentary Evidence, Uncertain Evidence
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Expanded 1920s-1930s
Monument End Date : 1939
Monument Start Date : 1920
Monument Type : Military Airfield
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : World War II
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Watch Office With Met Section (5845/39), Military Airfield, Aircraft Hangar (Type C)
Evidence : Structure, Documentary Evidence, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : 21st Century
Display Date : Use noted 2004
Monument End Date : 2004
Monument Start Date : 2004
Monument Type : Military Airfield
Evidence : Structure

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : DoB Non Anti Invasion Database UID
External Cross Reference Number : 1244
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : No List Case
External Cross Reference Number : 168017/506781
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SK 96 SE 48
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1464349
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1464359
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1412002
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 1064331
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Activity type : MEASURED SURVEY
Start Date : 1995-04-01
End Date : 2002-03-01
Associated Activities : RAF WADDINGTON RUNWAY
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2015-01-01
End Date : 2016-12-31
Associated Activities : LAND AT RAF WADDINGTON
Activity type : WATCHING BRIEF
Start Date : 2017-01-01
End Date : 2017-12-31