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Former airbase outbuilding set to become 300-bed accommodation centre

PUBLISHED: 16:40 26 September 2019 | UPDATED: 08:07 27 September 2019

Nigel Finkel at the former Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall that is being converted into a residential centre.
Picture: Neil Perry

Nigel Finkel at the former Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall that is being converted into a residential centre. Picture: Neil Perry

Archant

Plans to turn the old officers' mess building at RAF Coltishall into a 300-bed accommodation centre are in full swing.

The Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall
Picture: Neil PerryThe Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall Picture: Neil Perry

The officers' mess on Jaguar Drive was left derelict for 15 years before Nigel Finkel, from Cardiff, and his team from NJF Services began refurbishing the Grade II listed building in May.

Mr Finkel said: "When we moved in it was basically derelict, for the first week it was just a big clean up.

"Since starting work we have got rid of all the mould, re-done all of the bathrooms and boilers, we have replaced some of the windows and carpets that were too far gone."

In its heyday, the RAF base housed hundreds of servicemen and their families. The buildings there saw 66 years of continuous use.

Between 1940 and 1945 the station was home for more than 80 fighter squadrons, including Polish and Czech units.

By the end of the Second World War, squadrons from Coltishall had destroyed 207 enemy aircraft, with 48 'probables' and more than 100 aircraft damaged.

After closing in 2006, the base was bought by Norfolk County Council in December 2012.

Now the team at NJF plan to open the building up for residential trips for schools, universities and religious groups that could make us of the large functions rooms, commercial kitchen and hundreds of bedrooms.

It could also be used by businesses that need to house large numbers of staff who are working in the area.

Mr Finkel said: "We believe that once we have permission from the council for change of use that we will be a real asset to the area and will bring groups of people from far and wide that will eat in our pubs and buy from our shops."

Earlier this year, residents surrounding the RAF base expressed concerns over noise after Mr Finkel housed a group of children in the property for two weeks over the summer.

He said: "We had teething problems with the first group, all of the other groups that come in will be much better supervised with teachers. Residents have nothing to worry about. We have learnt from our mistakes and just want to be good neighbours."

118 Squadron in a dispersal (fighter pen) at RAF Coltishall in 1943. Picture: SUBMITTED118 Squadron in a dispersal (fighter pen) at RAF Coltishall in 1943. Picture: SUBMITTED

Mr Finkel hopes to have his business up and running within the next year.

New look bedrooms at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall
Picture: Neil PerryNew look bedrooms at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall Picture: Neil Perry

The main central corridor at the Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall
Picture: Neil PerryThe main central corridor at the Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall Picture: Neil Perry

One of the bedrooms at the Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall
Picture: Neil PerryOne of the bedrooms at the Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall Picture: Neil Perry

Repainted windows at the Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall
Picture: Neil PerryRepainted windows at the Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall Picture: Neil Perry

Murals on the walls of one of the bars at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall
Picture: Neil PerryMurals on the walls of one of the bars at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall Picture: Neil Perry

Murals on the walls of one of the bars at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall
Picture: Neil PerryMurals on the walls of one of the bars at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall Picture: Neil Perry

The historic downstairs bar at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall that is being preserved.
Picture: Neil PerryThe historic downstairs bar at the old Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall that is being preserved. Picture: Neil Perry

The repaired bar aread at the Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall
Picture: Neil PerryThe repaired bar aread at the Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall Picture: Neil Perry

The dining room at the Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall
Picture: Neil PerryThe dining room at the Officers' Mess building at the former RAF Coltishall Picture: Neil Perry

RAF Coltishall rescue team 02.09.1985 Photo: Archant LibraryRAF Coltishall rescue team 02.09.1985 Photo: Archant Library

RAF Coltishall rescue team 02.09.1985 Photo: Archant LibraryRAF Coltishall rescue team 02.09.1985 Photo: Archant Library

RAF Coltishall pilots return from a North Sea rig 28.03.1980 Photo: Archant LibraryRAF Coltishall pilots return from a North Sea rig 28.03.1980 Photo: Archant Library

Concorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant LibraryConcorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant Library

Concorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant LibraryConcorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant Library

Concorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant LibraryConcorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant Library

Concorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant LibraryConcorde at RAF Coltishall, 11 July 1987. Photo: Archant Library

ROYAL FAMILY

PRINCESS MARGARET VISITS RAF COLTISHALL

DATED  7TH MAY 1963

PLATE  P0395ROYAL FAMILY PRINCESS MARGARET VISITS RAF COLTISHALL DATED 7TH MAY 1963 PLATE P0395

Norwich - Bignold school children looking at planes at RAF Coltishall pic taken 15th feb 1968 m7248-28 pic to be used in lets talk march 2017Norwich - Bignold school children looking at planes at RAF Coltishall pic taken 15th feb 1968 m7248-28 pic to be used in lets talk march 2017

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RAF Coltishall 'At Home' day pictured by EDP photographer Dick Jeeves on 17th September 1960.RAF Coltishall 'At Home' day pictured by EDP photographer Dick Jeeves on 17th September 1960.



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