Hurricane and Spitfire in the Norfolk sky as heritage centre opens
- Credit: Simon Michael-Morgan
Spectators were treated to a rare sight on Wednesday as two RAF classics took to the sky to mark the opening of a new heritage centre in Norfolk.
A guardroom building at the former RAF Coltishall has been transformed into a heritage and learning centre by a team of dedicated volunteers.
Chair of the RAF Station Coltishall Heritage Trust Mervyn Cousens said: "We wanted to do something to highlight the importance of everything that has gone on here, and keep it alive for generations to come."
The new centre opened at what is now Scottow Enterprise Park on Wednesday – and a Hawker Hurricane and a Spitfire took to the skies to mark the occasion.
According to the RAF, there are only 12 airworthy Hurricanes left in the world.
Both planes were integral to victory in the Battle of Britain in 1940.
A fine example of each was caught on camera by actor Simon Michael-Morgan, who was attending the heritage centre opening.
The Coltishall Heritage Trust is leasing building No. 40 at the site on what it hopes will be a long-term arrangement. The enterprise park is owned by Norfolk County Council and leased to Hethel Innovation, which in turn leases parts of the site to tenants including the heritage trust.
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RAF Coltishall became a fighter station in 1940, the year after it was built, and during the Second World War it was home to more than 80 fighter squadrons. It hosted pilots including the ace Douglas Bader as well as Polish and Czech units, and during the Cold War it was home to Lightning and Jaguar jets. The base was closed in 2006.
Mr Cousens said Norfolk was unique in that it had three RAF command stations – fighter command at Coltishall, bomber command at RAF Marham and coastal command at Bircham Newton. He said: "Once we've got ourselves open we'll be able to link up and maybe make a heritage trail for people who do want to learn the facts of what happened."
Mr Cousens said the base had been part of many other chapters in Norfolk's history, including playing a pivotal role in the response to the 1953 North Sea floods, and hosting several royal visits.