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Project to explore Cold War era when Khrushchev visited Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 08:56 06 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:26 06 March 2019

Mr Bulganin and Mr Kruschev at RAF Marham, 23 April 1956. Photo: Archant Library

Mr Bulganin and Mr Kruschev at RAF Marham, 23 April 1956. Photo: Archant Library

Archant Library

From Thor missiles armed and ready at RAF Feltwell and USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev being shown around RAF Marham, Norfolk played a crucial role during the Cold War.

Mr Bulganin and Mr Kruschev on the saluting base at RAF Marham, 23 April 1956. Photo: Archant LibraryMr Bulganin and Mr Kruschev on the saluting base at RAF Marham, 23 April 1956. Photo: Archant Library

Under constant threat of nuclear annihilation following the end of the Second World War, the region was centre stage for the secretive fight against the communist bloc.

Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh at RAF Marham, 23 July 1956. Photo: Archant LibraryQueen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh at RAF Marham, 23 July 1956. Photo: Archant Library

Central to the deterrent tactics of the Cold War, Norfolk saw secret nuclear bunkers and nuclear weapon bases spring up around the county.

The Queen at RAF Marham in 1956. Photo: Archant LibraryThe Queen at RAF Marham in 1956. Photo: Archant Library

US Airbases such as RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall contributed to the defence of the country, alongside British bases including RAF Marham, RAF Feltwell and RAF Barnham.

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at RAF Marham, 23 July 1956. Photo: Archant LibraryQueen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at RAF Marham, 23 July 1956. Photo: Archant Library

Now, a new project exploring the history of the Cold War and its links with the Brecks is due to begin after receiving nearly £10,000 in National Lottery funding.

North Pickenham missile march on 6 December 1958 - banner states North Pickenham missile march on 6 December 1958 - banner states "Refuse work on nuclear weapons". Photo: Archant Library

During the Cold War era, Queen Elizabeth and Nikita Khrushchev visited RAF Marham in 1956, with the construction of missile sites in Feltwell and around the area leading to protest marches in places such as North Pickenham.

The Thor missile at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960

. Photo: Archant LibraryThe Thor missile at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960 . Photo: Archant Library

On the day of the visit, the EDP printed its leader column in Russian in the form of an open letter to the two leaders.

The Thor missile at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960  . Photo: Archant LibraryThe Thor missile at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960 . Photo: Archant Library

The new project, called The Cold War in the Brecks, is run by The Breckland Society and will see activities including archival research, site visits and oral history interviews take place.

The Thor missiles at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960

. Photo: Archant LibraryThe Thor missiles at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960 . Photo: Archant Library

The Breckland Society’s project manager, Ken Delve, said: “The Brecks area and its immediate surroundings included a significant number of RAF and American air bases, and as such was very much central to the deterrent nature of the Cold War.

B.52 bombers at RAF Marham, 25 June 1980. Photo: Archant LibraryB.52 bombers at RAF Marham, 25 June 1980. Photo: Archant Library

“Whilst such bases were vital, they had to be protected, as did the general population, and of course there were segments of society that protested the entire concept.

B.52 bombers at RAF Marham, 25 June 1980. Photo: Archant LibraryB.52 bombers at RAF Marham, 25 June 1980. Photo: Archant Library

“The Cold War in The Brecks project will be looking at all aspects of this critical period in European history, in which The Brecks played a central role.”

The last Valiant is pulled off its stand, on 25 March 1982, at RAF Marham where it has stood on display since 1964. Photo: Archant LibraryThe last Valiant is pulled off its stand, on 25 March 1982, at RAF Marham where it has stood on display since 1964. Photo: Archant Library

Two meetings for those interested in the project will take place in March, with one at Barnham Camp on Saturday, March 23 at 10.30am and another at RAF Marham Aviation Heritage Centre on Saturday, March 30 from midday.

RAF Marham, 11 March 1985. Photo: Archant LibraryRAF Marham, 11 March 1985. Photo: Archant Library

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