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REVEALED: the forgotten Cold War history behind a Norfolk RAF base

PUBLISHED: 18:01 24 February 2019

Ian Brown, right, with 12-year-old son Harry and 11-year=old stepson Luke. Photo: Ian Brown

Ian Brown, right, with 12-year-old son Harry and 11-year=old stepson Luke. Photo: Ian Brown

Archant

For many of us, a walk in the Norfolk countryside is a chance for a peaceful breath of fresh air.

Wicken Green Village overlooks the abandoned air base of RAF Sculthorpe. Photo: ARCHANTWicken Green Village overlooks the abandoned air base of RAF Sculthorpe. Photo: ARCHANT

But for one Fakenham man, the surroundings of Wicken Green village revealed a forgotten slice of Cold War history, hidden in the unspoilt fields.

RAF Sculthorpe is a decommissioned Ministry of Defence facility in north Norfolk, with a past dating back through conflicts of the 20th century, from the fall of the Iron Curtain to the Second World War.

And now Ian Brown, a 40-year-old mechanic who used to live in the site’s former military quarters, is preparing to open a museum, dedicated to preserving the remains and memories of the base for future generations.

Mr Brown, who lives in Fakenham with his family, said: “I moved to the area about three years ago and lived in the former RAF married quarters.

RAF personnel pictured in the barracks in 1953. Photo: Supplied by Ian BrownRAF personnel pictured in the barracks in 1953. Photo: Supplied by Ian Brown

“I’ve always had an interest in military history and I used to walk around there and realised it was a much bigger base than I’d thought.

“It was running for just shy of 50 years.

“I read some books about the base and realised how important it was in the 1950s and 1960s and during the Cold War.

“It should be more well-known. It was the main deterrent for the Americans against the Soviet Union in the 1950s.

RAF Sculthorpe has a forgotten Cold War history. Photo: ARCHANTRAF Sculthorpe has a forgotten Cold War history. Photo: ARCHANT

“There were three occasions where the planes were loaded and ready to fly - the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Hungarian Revolution, and the Ju Jitsu spy flights.

“There was a guy in 1957-58 who tried to blow himself up and it was brought up in the House of Commons.”

Mr Brown is planning to open a small museum room at Wicken Green Rural Centre, which he hopes to open to the public - free of charge - most Sundays.

“There’s going to be a room with a museum centre in, used for displays and memorials of the base’s history from 1943 to 1992,” he said.

RAF Sculthorpe from the sky. Photo: Supplied by Ian BrownRAF Sculthorpe from the sky. Photo: Supplied by Ian Brown

“We’ve had some good donations already of some photos and uniforms to put on display and items from the wives’ club.”

Mr Brown set up a JustGiving page to fundraise for the museum on Friday, and has already raised 70pc of his target amount, to create the heritage centre at the former atomic base.

He also runs a Facebook page promoting the base’s history, called RAF Sculthorpe Forgotten Cold War Base.

The base previously housed atomic bombs. Photo: ARCHANTThe base previously housed atomic bombs. Photo: ARCHANT

Ian Brown, from Fakenham, is opening a museum about RAF Sculthorpe. Photo: Supplied by Ian BrownIan Brown, from Fakenham, is opening a museum about RAF Sculthorpe. Photo: Supplied by Ian Brown

There is a fundraising page towards setting up the museum. Photo: ARCHANTThere is a fundraising page towards setting up the museum. Photo: ARCHANT



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