Plane Site

Over the weekend I had the following message from David Mace on the subject of RAF Lichfield.

At the Jet Age Museum, Staverton, Gloucester; we are reconstructing the cockpit section of a Hawker Typhoon 1B to be included as a museum exhibit. The remains of this aircraft cockpit were recovered from Flower’s scrap yard, Chippenham in the mid-90’s. Information on the project is available here:

http://www.jetagemuseum.org/Typhoon.aspx

No. 51 Maintenance unit scrapped approximately 900 Hawker Typhoons at Royal Air Force Station Lichfield, also known as Fradley Aerodrome between 1945 and 1947, and, although most of the airframes were recycled, it is possible that some items remain in the surrounding woodlands and hedges/ditches. It was quite common for the salvage crews to dump parts in these locations.

The Typhoon Project team are seeking information as to the possible whereabouts of surviving items that can be included in the rebuild project, and any information would be much appreciated.

 

David believes that much of the scrapping was carried out in the Curborough area, south of the airfield. We’re hoping to do a Lichfield Discovered walk over the next month or so to see if we can turn anything up (we never need much of an excuse to go and rummage around in ditches!). RAF Lichfield was Staffordshire’s busiest wartime airfields and although closed in 1958, and sold four years later, the following photographs, taken by David Moore on our RAF Fradley walk last summer, show just how much of interest still exists at the site. More details on the walk to follow, but in the meantime if anyone does have any information, please get in touch and I’ll forward it on to David Mace.

RAF Fradley 1

RAF Fradley 4

RAF Fradley 3

RAF FRadley 2

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Get The Drift?

Over at Curborough Craft Centre today, I noticed a plaque on one of the converted farm buildings explaining that it was a former drift house, possibly built on the foundations of an earlier building.

Back at home, I tried to find out what exactly a drift house was used for.  It seems there are plenty of them around (including one in Stonnall) but no real explanations as to exactly what purpose they served. And believe me I’ve looked – I googled, I read (an English Heritage study into farm buildings of the West Midlands and some ye olde book on farming) and I attempted to apply logic but all to no avail.

However, what I did find was that the drift house at Curborough was surveyed in August 1984 along with other agricultural buildings in the Curborough and Elmhurst area. The report on the Heritage Gateway site includes the following information – “Mrs Hollinshead referred to this as a ‘drift barn’. It is in a poor condition; the doors are blocked with corrugated sheeting, the roof is gone and is replaced with corrugated sheeting and the north-east side has been repaired”. The report was part of the Domesday survey of barns in Staffordshire co-ordinated by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings in 1985 and clearly the building has had a lot of TLC since then. You can read it here.

Anyway, eventually, I gave up and went off on a tangent. I’d read previously that the place name Curborough is thought to derive from the Old English ‘cweorn burna’. However, what I didn’t know is that there have been an abundance of archaeological finds in the area, indicating that Curborough was inhabited long before the Anglo-Saxons decided to build a mill on the stream here.  A site near to the farm has been identified as a possible Roman settlement with large quantities of coins, brooches, pottery, tiles and glass being discovered in the late 1990s. It seems even the Romans were relative latecomers, with Mesolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age finds also being unearthed nearby. So many wonderful discoveries and so much more to learn about this fascinating place I’m sure. However, at this moment in time, I’ll settle for an explanation of what a drift house (or barn) is, if anyone can help!

Sources

http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/Results_Single.aspx?uid=MST4660&resourceID=1010

‘Townships: Curborough and Elmshurst’, A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 14: Lichfield (1990)