Save Winkleigh Tower - Started 05/09/2015 08:55
Winkleigh Airfield’s Control Tower stands as the only recognisable reminder of the WWII RAF base. It is s Scheduled Monument and it has been derelict since at least 1990. On the 22nd September the tower goes under the hammer at auction. I want to buy and restore this iconic building back to its original state and into a Living History Museum and I need your help.
"The control tower at Winkleigh still stands to its full height close to a modern road. It is highly visible and serves as a graphic reminder of major conflicts in the mid-20th century."Historic England List Entry Number: 1020765
An example of a 343/43 Control Tower in use during WWII
RAF Winkleigh in Devon was used as a training ground for D-Day, provided an operational base for the night fighters of 406 Squadron, manned by the Royal Canadian Air Force, and is believed to have been used secretly for Lysanders dropping Special Operations Executive agents into Western France. The airfield was decommissioned and sold in 1958. Since then the airfield has been broken up into several different properties and several buildings which are left have been modified over the years for modern use. Many have been dismantled, demolished, or simply rotted to pieces. The air traffic control tower that was once the lynchpin of the air base remains all that is left the RAF base today, and it’s crumbling away.
In a few days the Control Tower will be sold at auction with a guide price of £35,000-£50,000. I hope to raise £38,000 to cover a £35,000 bid, and the crowdfunding fees. I've deliberately set this project as Keep What You Raise because if I'm unsuccessful in purchasing Winkleigh Control Tower, all the money I have raised will be donated to the Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal.
If I successfully purchase the Control Tower, I intend to create a Community Interest Company (CIC) to raise money through various schemes in order to fund restoration work on the Tower with the intention of opening the site as a living history museum. I'm also actively seeking grants and funding to assist in this process.
It might sound like a crazy idea, but I know it’s possible to restore the Tower back to it’s heyday through appropriate marketing to generate the necessary income because I’ve seen similar schemes succeed. For over a decade now I've been involved with Living History museums, I've worked in the tourist industry for longer than that and for the last two years I've been working at a Scheduled Ancient Monument in Devon, so I’m familiar with the kind of challenges a project like Winkleigh Tower presents.
Because of the unique conditions imposed on Scheduled Monuments in general and on Winkleigh Airfield in particular, I consider it highly unlikely that another purchaser of the Control Tower will do anything to halt the decay of this evocative piece of international history. If this project is successful, I plan to not only arrest this decline but to begin the arduous process of reversing it.
My long term plan for Winkleigh Control Tower is not only to restore the tower back to it's original state but to open the site as a living history museum, offering a wide range of activities to both the national and local communities. Subject to the appropriate planning permissions I plan to reconstruct a variety of authentic buildings on the site to make a versatile venue and create an authentic WWII smallholding that can be visited as part of the experience of Winkleigh Tower.
We're running out of time before the site goes to auction on22nd September 2015. I believe very strongly that the Tower should be preserved and that to allow it to deteriorate further without taking any action will see the destruction of this testament to the brave men and women of RAF Winkleigh.
By pledging to fund Save Winkleigh Tower you're doing more than preserving this important piece of national heritage, you're donating to the Royal British Legion too. And if this project succeeds, the tower can not only survive, it can flourish. By operating as a CIC Winkleigh Tower can not only fund it's own recovery but also assist the wider community by boosting tourism and the economy of the local area through events and schemes run in co-operation with the inhabitants of Winkleigh.
Even if we're unsuccessful all funds raised will be donated to the Poppy Appeal. What can you lose? Even if we can't buy the Control Tower, you're still helping a great cause.