RAF Marham’s special tribute to the Tornado

RAF Marham Heritage Centre curator Steve Roberts. Picture: Ian Burt

RAF Marham Heritage Centre curator Steve Roberts. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

It was established during the dark days of the Great War, when aerial warfare was still in its infancy.

RAF Marham Heritage Centre curator Steve Roberts. Picture: Ian Burt

RAF Marham Heritage Centre curator Steve Roberts. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

In the decades since, it has been home to a succession of aircraft, each representing a chapter in the history of the Royal Air Force. Now, as RAF Marham marks its centenary year, the base has revealed it is to celebrate the landmark by holding 100 commemorative events throughout the year.

At the heart of its plans for the year is a £90,000 fundraising campaign to build a new facility at the base - one of the oldest in Britain - in honour of the Tornado - the aircraft currently stationed at the site.

This would be housed in a new atrium to be built at the site's heritage centre.

Station warrant officer and curator of the centre, Steve Roberts said: 'The 5m by 16m atrium will become the spiritual home of the Tornado, which has always been associated with RAF Marham. Our intention is to have two Tornado cockpits placed in the atrium.'

The heritage centre is run by volunteers and currently just opens on the last Saturday of the month, but there are plans to staff it two days a week in future.

Mr Roberts added: 'There will also be an interactive learning archive at the centre. We've got a wealth of archives here, but we cannot display them due to a lack of room. It will mean more of our archive collection will be available to the public.'

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The centenary celebrations were launched at the airbase yesterday.

RAF personnel were joined by the mayors of King's Lynn, Swaffham, Norwich and Downham Market along with other guests.

Centenary artwork on one of the fuel tanks of the Tornado Gate Guardian was unveiled by station commander, Group Captain Richard Davies, as a Tornado flew overhead at a height of 500ft.

Mr Davies said: 'RAF Marham means an awful lot to the community, as it's part of Norfolk. It's one of only four stations across the country that are 100 years old. 'The aim of the celebrations is to bring the community together. Events will include the airbase playing a bigger role at the Royal Norfolk Show, and a Friends' and Families' day will be held in July.

'As this year is the 25th anniversary of the liberation of Kuwait, one of the Tornados' noses will be painted a pink colour, as they were in 1991.

'We also plan to link in with local cadets who are running a Tornado trail in King's Lynn, as a follow-up to last year's Spitfire trail.

'A woman is also doing a 24-hour 'iron-athon', and my wife will be climbing Mt Kilimanjaro, a life-long ambition. We will also have a visit from the Queen, who is our honorary air commodore, in her 90th year. She visits every two years.'

A time capsule with 100 items in it will also be buried. Back in 1916 the airbase was just open fields owned by the Hare family. It is now home to 10,000 servicemen and women and their families.

The heritage centre was opened, next to the base's main gate, in 2013.

do you have special memories of RAF Marham? Email david.bale2@archant.co.uk