View Full Version : Control Towers / Watch Offices
Control towers, or “Watch Offices” as they were initially known, have, like most airfield buildings, evolved out of necessity both in terms of the roles they played and the enforcement of design influenced by the need for them to become quickly operational and the restriction of building materials available. This was perhaps obviously more felt during the war years when a more or less “generic” form of control tower, with a few variations, could be seen springing up on the duration only airfields then being constructed.
This evolution however is interesting and whilst not going into too much detail the following should give a brief but potted history of their design and evolvement. Those wishing to research further are advised to read “Control Towers” by Paul Francis, also the website “Control Towers” is equally recommended.
As is well known the early flying fields were rudimentary affairs, indeed aviation and air power was in it’s infancy, proper flying control was not possible initially until the concept of radio in aircraft was embraced. The initial watch offices then were simple affairs, usually basic hutting with extra windows, one of these survives today at Duxford in Cambridgeshire as building 89.
The watch offices like all airfield structures carried a design number followed by the last two numbers of the year of design. The most common inter-war watch office was the fort type, the 1959/34 was brick built whilst the 207/36 was pre-cast concrete. Examples surviving today including design 1959/34 at RAF Biscester and this example at RAF Cosford
Some of the Fort type structures were modified and adapted in many ways, some by having the centre Fort removed and replaced with a larger control room, this being re-designated 4698/43. An example of this can be seen today at the former RAF Hemswell in Lincolnshire, a further addition has also been added to the right of the 4698/43 design.
As war became ever more probable what became known as the “Expansion period” in the late 1930’s saw many airfields constructed to a very similar design. Self contained a having elaborate brick built structures it followed that the watch offices would be equal in design. This brought about the appearance of grandiose almost art-deco types of tower such as 756/36 at RAF Manby, one of the most common tower from this period was the 5845/39, examples being constructed at RAF Swinderby and Middleton St George amongst other locations. A good example of how the supply of materials coupled with the need to bring airfields into service quicker can be seen with the brick built 5845 design, a sectional concrete version, and therefore quicker to assemble, was brought into service as the 2328/39, an example of which can be seen at RAF Toplcliffe in Yorkshire.
In the war years, as said earlier, design was more or less standardised. The largest wartime design, based upon the previously mentioned 5845 was the “Watch Office with Met Section” 518/45 had an all timber first floor and balcony, whilst 8936/40 had a timber balcony and control room floor. The “Watch Office for All Commands” was designed for use on training airfields but became the standard building for all commands in late 1943, this design was 12779/41, some were modified to 15371/41, these had small front windows, and some modified to bring them up design standard 343/43. This design became the standard Watch Office For All Commands tower after 1943.
During the war years there were other types of tower, satellite stations tended to have their own designs; Bomber satellite type A had examples of 15898/40, 15956/40 and 17821/40, followed by type B which was 7345/41. Fighter satellite stations had such designs as 1536/42 and 7332/42.
The last type of tower designed during the war was a three storey type and was intended for what would become “very heavy bomber stations” This was design 294/45 and examples were built at Lakenheath, Marham and Sculthorpe, amongst others.
The evolution of the tower would continue after WW2, many of the surviving war towers were modified and had large “greenhouses” added giving better visibility, such as RAF Manby. New designs of tower were also constructed; 5223a/51 was built in the Korean War with examples constructed at various airfields including Brize Norton Greenham Common and Mildenhall. New designs were also built for the V bomber force airfields as well as replacing earlier designs at other stations such as the “modern” tower at RAF Manby in Lincolnshire, 2548c/55.
I am interested in the evolution of the Control Towers as from 1939.
Which book do you suggest me ?
I've seen one from author 'Paul Francis' :wink: ... any other book on the subjecy around ?
I can vouch for nowich pauls book.
Is full of a lot of information on control towers.Worth a good read.
Control towers are really fascinating.
There is quite a lot of different desighns .
I'am looking for a book with quality plans of control towers thru the war years and even later... which one is the best ?
I can help you with plans for the 2328/39 version as got a copy of the prints from raf museum several years ago.
There is two all together.
One is a amendment with different equipment layouts .
Pm me if you are interested and i will see if i can scan it for you.
Carnaby (on here) wrote the airfield lighting chapter in 'Paul Francis' book on control towers. It was written back in 1993 and is still the best there is on the subject (well I would say that wouldn't I).
The description 'fort' type was invented by Dr. Ron Blake in the early 1970s, when he correctly described its shape as a 'child's fort'. Ron was perhaps the first person in the UK to write serious papers on airfields, one of his first being 'Disused Airfields as a Planning Resourse'. The man is a legend. The Directorate of Buildings and Works description of the building is 'Watch Office with Tower', there was also a Watch Office without Tower but only one is believed to have been built, at Hornchurch. Jumping ahead REF to 1945, you mentioned the VHB control tower - perhaps the first true military control tower (at least in the UK as all others are presumed to be Watch Offices), but what about the VHT tower or Very Heavy Transport CT (also of 1945) as built at Heathrow and St Mawgan - both are belived to be extant. More details can be found in my CT book.
Nice to see the VHT mentioned, to my mind it was the ultimite military tower design along with the VHB.
St Mawgans 1228/43 is indeed still extent and in full use for the time being, but I thought Heathrows was demolished a long time ago (mid '50s?).
I would really like to see more info and pictures of Heathrows original tower - any out here?
Heres a link to my St Mawgan tower webpages, http://st.mawgantower.mysite.orange.co.uk/
and my info and pics here on Robert Trumans excellent site,
Thanks to Mr. M....... for permission and a full report will follow when I get time.
Many thanks to one of the forest rangers, Rick I think his name was, for keeping an eye on Jakob and I.
Report to follow as work keeps interupting my day.
Excellent start guys!
Looks like Little Staunton and Woolfox might have been lived in at one time - I don't think a fireplace was standard anyway!
Heres my favourite, both design and location wise, RAF St Mawgan VHT 1228/43.
First pic was taken in c.1957 from the east.
This pic was taken in September 2007 and is from the South.
This is a good angle as it excludes the modern developments on the west side of the tower and shows the same, not often seen, original 'Seco' hutting which is visible in the 'old' photo.
Acaster Malbis, Yorkshire
Last lot from me for the time being....
Hutton Cranswick, Yorkshire
Grimsby (Waltham) 1, 1992
Grimsby (Waltham) 2, 1992
Grimsby (Waltham) 3, 2005
Does this count? Ipswich.
Montford Bridge, Shropshire
The room on the left as you enter was a wet weather store, ie raincoats and anything else required for operating on a rainy airfield.
The bricking up of the approach room windows was common to alot of radar (trying to remember which one now) equiped RAF towers from about the early '80s. The ventilation ducts also came in then.
An alternative measure was internal solid shutters or painted over inner windows.
Some of these towers were than reconverted back to windows when new 'light friendly' displays were bought in across the RAF ATC.
Control tower at Leicester East.
RAF Cranwell post war control tower 2548c/55 (west face)
Picture courtesy of Keith Steadman
I have a lot more pictures that Keith has given me permission to post up, most of the photos he took were for his Flight sim version of RAF Cranwell. He sent them to me for my personal collection.
I'll post some up later
In my ongoing researches of St Mawgan, I have found three passages that have led me to ask the above question.
A book about the station states it had a 518/40 with extension.
A controllers account from his time at Mawgan states that he was in a two storey tower. He mentions moving kit from the old tower to the new one.
Another source states that the current VHT tower opened in May 1944, a year after the runways opened.
No other evidence I have backs up any of the above, and I'm wondering if two of the sources are just wrong, and was the controller working out of Trebelzue tower, but that seems just a bit two far away from the main runways.
What I need to know is, could it have been possible that a 518/40 tower was built in early '43, only to be completely replaced and removed by mid '44?
I dont think so, RAF St Mawganmad was built too late for the 518/40.
Thanks NP, just reaching the same conclusion myself NP, another source stated she moved from Trebelzue to the new 3 storey tower.
Waddington. Couldn't resist getting a quick snap of this whilst i was at the Waddington airshow last weekend.
Husbands Bosworth. above and below.
Of all the existing control towers,which is the best original control tower that is still standing? Towers that have been fully restored can only count if they had alot of original fittings remaining prior to restoration.
That's a bit of a question Peter and probably quite subjective. Many of the towers which have been restored - as I'm sure you'll know - were resurrected from bare shells with few, if any, original fixtures and fittings still in situ and many of the restored towers have "imported" items in them. Two I would nominate are East Kirkby and Debach.
You seem to have the same obssesion with control towers that i have. I want them ALL preserved!! Have a look at the Woolfox Lodge pics i've just posted when you get the time mate.! Again another old tower which could defitnetley be saved!
Really love the look of the Colbey Grange tower. I've heard so many stories about that place and i've passed it almost every year on the way home from Waddington's Airshow but i've never had the chance to have a look around it.
I think Duxfords tower looks pretty authentic even if the glass house on the roof isn't original. They "removed" it off the control tower at Nuneaton airfield. That said it's still a classic example of a ww2 tower.
St Mawgans VHT tower is the oldest still in full RAF service, with a compliment of over 30 air traffic controllers and a full radar room, it is a testimant to the original AM designers.
It has been reclad in alloy sheeting and has the addition of a /55 type VCR room on top which detracts from its original external look, but the interior is still mainly painted brick finish and all the rooms are original.
One of the worst has to be Metheringham.
I reckon a close 2nd must be Ellough, i don't know how long it can remain standing.
The right hand side is pulling away badly, at the top of the stairs you can get your foot in the crack.
Ellough - Is that another name for Beccles by any chance? USAAF Station 132 and later transferred to RAF Bomber Command and latterly the FAA? We've been in that tower and it's horrifying. I know what you mean about the gap at the top of stairs Jason! The crack in wall doesn't inspire confidence either. It's also very vandalised.
I was wondering the same as yourself Jason and will it be one which just collapses in on itself?
Yes, Metheringham's tower is a bit of a wreck, isn't it!?
With large structural failure like that , I would say it's days are numbered too!
Had a letter from English Heritage to say Davidstows control tower is about to be listed.
Does the letter say that EH are going to submit the building for listing, or does it say that the Minister has decided that it will be listed? They are worlds apart and clarification is needed. I would of thought that Scheduling would be more appropriate??
I am a bit of a "tower addict" i must admit...Heres the control tower at Newton...
..and Kings Cliffe
Manby. Original Watch Office
and 1955 one
I am a bit of a "tower addict" i must admit...
Join the club, oh you have lol! Must admit my favourite subject, got some cracking images there Stevie.
What is the Wickenby tower used for now?
Is Duxfords tower the only one to still have an original type VCR cupola fitted and still in use?
I know there is one removed and preserved at Brooklands.
In the 1972 pic of Duxfords tower on this thread http://airfieldinformationexchange.free ... -t311.html (http://airfieldinformationexchange.freeforums.org/duxford-1972-t311.html) the tower doesn't have a VCR.
Wickenby tower has a variety of things going on in it, the ground floor has a small cafe, rest area for the light aircraft flying club who fly on a grass strip in front of the tower, the 1st floor has a small museum about Wickenby which has various displays. There are also some offices up here, on the staircase are lots of photos from WW2 when the site was active, off the main road going into the entrance towards the tower is the memorial
I can't help but feel a little bit let down when you visit an old airfield and the control tower is no longer there.
The VCR on top of Duxford's Tower was originally standing on top of the control tower at Nuneaton airfield. Nuneaton's new role as a proving ground meant that they no longer required the VCR (although the tower there is still used for controlling movements on the airfields although it's cars etc etc nowadays not aircraft) and the VCR was removed and restored and found it's way on to Duxfords tower in the summer of 1989.
Surely Weston super Mare is owned by Slough Estates is it not?
Some gr8 pics there of the towers.
I would love to get hold of a desk which were fitted in the vcr rooms so i can refit it out with all the equipment i got from Raf Binbrook.
Did see a pic somewhere of a old tower somewher with the desk just left in there but cant remember which one.
I do have a set of plans for the desk but it doesnt list all the dimensions so a bit stuck there unless i can measure one up .
I am surprised no-one has mentioned Elvington's tower here - restored by the Yorkshire Air Museum of course.
I seem to remember a film where a bunch of robbers holed up in a control tower and beneath it was an air raid shelter. I was convinced all control towers had them. I thought film was fact then!!!!!
The film might have been Robbery but as I haven't seen it in decades I can't be sure.
Seeing pictures of the tower that once stood at Melton Mowbray reveals that that had an extra bottom floor. The tower was a 12779/41 with an additional floor (much larger than the exta floor on Withams control tower) which stored the night flying equipment and fire tender. The Floodlight tractor and trailer shed stood next to the tower.
Stangely though on site plans of Melton airfield the tower apparently is described as a conventional tower for some reason.
The son of the owner at Graveley told myself and REF that there is a cellar under that tower, apparently the original Great Train Robbery film had a scene where the robbers take the cash to the Control Tower and go down a cellar, the current owners have an idea where it is but believe it's flooded.
Having visited many sites i have always wondered why Control Towers are built on the areas of the airfield where they are, did someone notice the area where they stand/stood as being having a better vantage point than other areas on the site, some i have noticed are built outside the
Peri Track ( Thorpe Abbotts ) whilst others were within the Peri ( Little Staunton ).
Thats basically the reason Jason. A good position to observe the circuit, main and secondary runways. All points of the airfield must be visible from the flying control tower. Hunsdons tower was positioned outside of the peritrack by a few feet, Sawbridgeworths was inside and Matching airfields tower was also within the peritrack.
Strangely the airport terminal apron cannot be seen visually from the control tower because the view is obstructed by two hangars . The controllers rely on a CCTV camera ! When it was RAF Middleton St George all the ASP's were around hangars 1 , 2 and 3 and visible from the tower . The new terminal was built in 1965-66 on land were the Lightning simulator stood and it was incorporated into the new building .
Great Orton's tower is of interest as it was (is?) in the right place, but 90 degrees out, as it faced the taxi-track, not the main runway. First noted in AS3 by Dave Smith 1981.
The Pembrey Sands CT must be the bombing range not the airfield surely?
It certainly is NP.
It is and is a range control tower which works in conjucton with the two sighting towers. Also talks to the aircraf operating on the range for clearences, weather and local information.
Its one of the most hideos towers I have ever been in.
Re positioning of airfield towers, I thought facing the main runway, with both approaches visible, and if possible facing North was the preferred layout since early war years.
This control tower at Davidstow Moor looks similar to North Withams! It's certainly raised higher than usual. Could this tower also have a cellar? Have a look and see what you think....
The term raised I think is far more acurate that the use of cellar to describe Noth Witham, cellar implies underground, NW is all above ground with the exception of the switch gear room which if memory serves extends below ground level ( it nearly always had water in the bottom during the 70's). It would be very interesting to see the drawing for this local variation
Was one ever built and do plans exist of it?
Oh, Carnaby very kindly sent me scans re the current tower at St Athan.
Mention is made that a new ATC Local 277/50 had actually received planning and approval originally, with an unrecommended alternative being to rebuild the existing 'fort' watch office with a modern VCR.
A recommendation was put in that the 2548/55 be used instead of the already planned 277/50.
Would love to know more?
I have a drawing of the local ATC but its buried under hundreds of plans. I will look it up, but its going to be a while - actually on second thoughts its dated 1955 not 1950. Hmm a bit early, none built then as the 5871c/55 had not been invented yet and neither had the one on the 5223a/51 (North Weald, Biggin and Greenham etc) which leaves either a Seco (Alconbury, Edzell) type or the VCR on the VHB.
I take it the VHB VCR would have to be mounted on a dedicated building? It was to be sited where the current tower is. I'm wondering if it would have looked similar to the 7378a/55 shorties - ala Swinderby?
Reading between the lines it seems St Athan didn't require a largish tower until the late '50s, when V force aircraft were considered for servicing on the station.
Again speculating, Im wondering if the modified 'fort' tower with VCR, or this 'local control' 277/50 was considered enough for the job, up until the period of the large jets arriving, and thats when the 2548/55 was agreed on.
Now that answers a question. On another web site they have Heath Row (thats how it used to be spelt) as having one of the VHB towers that Marham Sculthorpe Lakenheath and West Raynham got. I thought Id never seen one of the VHB towers at Heathrow.
I always had the impression Heath Row was intended for Transport Command use, and to have had a Very Heavy Bomber airfield in that location seemed somewhat odd.
There's a nice photo of Heathrow in October 1945, with the original three-runway layout at http://www.rafmuseumphotos.com/pictures_1043234/Heathrow-Airport-1945.html.
There is also a 1949 film of Heathrow available at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/films/1945to1951/filmpage_la.htm which includes a drive-by of the tower:
All the best,
What were the VHT's that the VHT airfields were built for?
I did read that Heath Row was intended for B-29s to be used, but whether or not that was just a story by the government to build the airport I dont know. As for the location, well Bovingdon isnt far away and that was a bomber base. As for Heathrow, I personally wouldnt build an airfield in a valley prone to fog! Stansted is a much better location for an airfield.
just had to board up the control tower (again always getting vandalised ) at raf abingon(dalton barracks) there is no cellar there
If I may make a comment. The term 'cellar' is being used to describe this lower room, even though the place in question is not underground, should not the term 'basement' be used instead.
Sounds similar to the loft/attic issue
It depends on topography and airfield lay out. The tower at Leuchars was built in 1960 and is very badly situated. It faces south so particuarly in winter youve got the sun in your face. It also has no sight of the ASPs.
One of the reasons for Yeovilton to have a new tower was (as well as age), to see all the airfield. Some years ago a new building was being completed and the control staff told the architect that it would obscure the runway. The architect new better, as they all do. I believe a jet was landing and came to a halt hidden from the tower. The first thing the tower saw was smoke rising.
The FTS and ASU airfields at Hullavington, Little Rissington, Shawbury and Ternhill were all built with Chief Flying Instructors Block 5740/36, as was the FTS at South Cerney. However Brize Norton was also built as a FTS and ASU at the same time, but appears not to have had a Chief Flying Instructors Block. All these airfields share a very similar layout, and most of the buildings are to the same pattern. I would have expected Brize to have had a CFIs Block.
Does anyone know if Brize was ever planned to have a CFI block which was never built. If it was never planned to have a CFIs block why not. Also what type of tower/watch office did Brize have originally, I would guess a Fort type 1959-34, but can any one confirm this.
Ah but it did, the site plan says 5745/36, the same set of drawings as 5740/36!
Thanks NP. I guessed that you would probably know the answer.
Every reference I have found about the CFI block only refers to the 5 airfields that still have one. No mention of Brize. I have seen some aerial pictures of Brize from around 1940 which shows a building in front of the centre hangar, but it was not possible to identify the type of building. That whole area is under concrete now, the apron next to the terminal building. I guess the CFI block disappeared when the Americans moved in and the current tower was built on the other side of the airfield.
Thanks again for the quick reply.
Havijg looked at the controltowers.co.uk website it states that only five towers to this design were built. Brize didnt have one built, my guess is that one wasnt built here due to the war starting.
Well actually the official site plan c.1945 identifies drawing 5745/36 as the one for the WO so unless there is any other concrete evidence to the contary,then we must assume that the building was actually built!
Since it seems pretty certain Brize had a CFI block, it would be interesting to know if anyone has any pictures of it. It would also be interesting to know a bit about the history of it, and when it disappeared. Especially as most references don't refer to it at all.
Delboy how did I know that would be your next question? But I agree as Canberra might be right (you cannot always go by whats on the plan) so a photo is the only way of proving it.
I would err on the side of it not being built (maybe forseen as a Bomber and ASU station by the time of completion?).
St Athan has buildiing designs shown on one plan that were clearly not built, and a more recent plan shows the different building design erected in its place
I always had the impression Heath Row was intended for Transport Command use, and to have had a Very Heavy Bomber airfield in that location seemed somewhat odd.
It was intended all along to be the post-war civil airport for the country, but passed through parliament etc under the guise of a much needed military transportation base.
PNK and PB, I'm of the opinion that VHT didn't nescessarily mean (but included) pure transport aircraft types, but meant a large base for the transportation of big numbers of large aircraft.
ie St Mawgan (the only VHT completed as such, and a pattern for Heathrow) was built to handle and service large numbers of American and British aircraft arriving and departing from the UK, it had over 16,000 moves in one month in 1944. This include civil moves, even St Mawgan had a large and modern customs, censors, and security section within the SECO terminal. The runway was even envisaged to handle the projected B-36 which was some five years (eight years actual) away from service entry, for transit reasons not for operational deployment as bombers.
I hope I'm making sense here, but my take on VHT means Very Heavy Transport as being capable of handling many large aircraft being transited, and not a dedicated transport base like Lynham etc.
More like Very Heavy Use then? I couldn't think of any aircraft that would fit the bill so that makes more sense. Having seen the plans for Heathrow drawn up in the late 1940's for extra runways north of the main road it would seem they did envisage heavier aircraft and more movements over 30 years before it was realised again!
Just seems more likely to me, lets face it Heathrow has been a building site all its life!
Just noticed in the pics that PB has posted that the mid level front windows have been bricked up, unusual as that is the met. level.
I can't tell whether they've been bricked up, or are just hidden in the shadow of the balcony.
There does appear to be three darker rectangles where the windows should be though.
All the best,
Leicester East (2008) -
Long Marston (2009) -
Langar (2008) -
Wymeswold (2008) -
Husbands Bosworth (2008) -
Waddington (2008) -
Kings Cliffe (2008) -
Woolfox Lodge (2008) -
North Witham (2008) -
Bruntingthorpe (2009) -
Wigsley (2009) -
Bottesford (2008) -
North Luffenham (2008) -
Sywell (2008) -
Duxford (2008) -
Swinderby 1939 build
Bodney 19 April 2007
Seething 18 April 2007
Bury St Edmunds 15 April 2007
Thorpe Abbotts 14 April 2007
Coleby Grange (1973)
Newcastle (Woolsington) (1976)
Just been reading this thread, someone makes a claim for St Mawgan having the oldest tower in use. Well what about Cosford? Also Marhams tower was built round about 46, cant be many on front line RAF bases thats older and still in use.
Canberra I made the claim on two grounds. I say 'full use', meaning it has (now had) full approach and visual rooms, met section and radar rooms, all being used as built. Secondly I class it as a full tower, rather than watch office.
Cosford is a watch office, and is the oldest as such in mil use, but is only FISO standard.
Now St Mawgans' tower is dissused then you are probably right about Marham.
Charmy Down. c.1970 - Dwg No. FCW4514, 10413/42
Montford Bridge. c.1970 - Dwg No. 17658/40, 7332/42
Windrush. c.1970 - Dwg No. 13726/41, 694/41
Abingdon, Villa type. c.1974 - Dwg No. 5845/39
Chipping Norton. c.1970 - Dwg No. 13726/41
RNAS Hinstock, HMS Godwit. c.1973
CAERNARVON RAF LLANDWROG
HONINGTON OLD TWR 1992
RNAS STRETTON 1987
Raf Gamston 2009
Deenethorpe, 12779/41 with modifications to 343/43.
1993, just prior to demolition:
RAF St Mawgan VHT 1228/43, C. 1955
RAF St Athan Vertical Split 2548/55, June 2008
RAF St Athan Watch Office with Tower 1959/34 'Fort', demolished late 1980s (via Paul Francis)
I must admit I thought Cosford would have been the oldest tower in use as well, but I'm happy to be proved wrong!
What is FISO?
FISO: Flight Information Service Officer, one stage down from Air Traffic Controller according to the CAA?
Well with me from when you helped start this forum lol.
BTW In the process of finding and collating all the tower pics on the f orum I have noticed that many of yours (and of other subjects) are no longer visible - are you aware of this?
Just a very basic explanation to what I meant.
St Mawgans VHT tower was built as a large tower with approach control, airfield control, and met.forecasting with all the rooms, offices, personnel, landing, radio, and lighting aids equipment needed. This required a SATCO, Officer, and NCO 'approach' and 'local' air traffic controllers, along with same position assistants and met. staff. The aforementioned set up existed from completion in '43 until closure in '08 day and night and all weathers. There were changes in kit and an expansion of responsibilities, Radar systems and local airspace control being two examples. This is what I meant by a 'full use' tower, and it was the oldest to stay working in that way. Now I would guess Marhams' VHB is the oldest.
Cosford tower is a 'local' only FISO standard tower, it dosen't work aircraft in the area or control aircraft into the airfield, it can only give clearance to land or take off and is advised of moves via land line systems. It would only operate during the day and in favourable weather. It wouldn't necesarily require a SATCO, and would only have a couple of 'local' controllers and a handful of assistants.
Cosford is not (afaik) a FISO tower, it has qualified air traffic controllers and yes does have a SATCO.
As I said thats as far as I know I may be wrong.
And having made the claim for Marham, unless its got a new tower Edinburgh airports tower may be older than Marhams.
Jeez Canberra, I'm sure I specified a full military tower, Cosford is a 'local' watch office (I know it has qualified controllers, one of the W/Os from Mawgan was posted there, FISO is a CAA qualification BTW), and Edinburgh isn't military, I'm sure alot of the now civilian towers/watch offices are much older than Marham.
The whole point I made some months ago is lost now as St Mawgan is shut!
Art deco tower at Bottesford (2008 ) -
Tholthorpe and Zeals are perfect examples of how to sypathetically turn a watch office in to a house - perfect!
I'm assuming the Bottesford tower is much modified into the delightful art deco style we see it in now?
The Bottesford art-deco tower is a new build, the original tower is still there. It was built a couple years back (I think) as a memorial to the aircrew that were based there, I think it was Austrailian aircrew from memory. The tower was I think based on an Austrailian design. Can anyone confirm this for me?
I'm sure thats correct Rich.
Despite it not being original to Bottesford i thought i'd add it to the control tower thread to add to the variety anyway..oh..and a bit of 'glamour' as well lol!
Bottesfords original ww2 tower is in my earlier post in the tower section.
RAF Northolt, sometime many moons ago, between 40s and 50s most likely.
St Marys Isles of Scilly - Picture vie Paul Francis
As long as the pics are from different ages, shouldn't be too bad having multiples. Personally I think its best to post the pics and then have a major reorganisation of the thread after a while?
Like that 1950s Northolt tower pic, the ground floor is still there and was in use by ground radio. Anyone know tower type?
Shepherds grove Tower 1988.
Keevil, taken in 2007
North Weald, 5223a/51, Taken 2009
North Witham, 1994.
Shipdham Tower, 1987.
Calshot ( Drawing unknown )
Does any body have a picture, diagram, or plan of a fighter satellite station watch office built to pattern 2658/42, please, I have scoured the tinterweb, but have not found one :( .
2658/42 tower at dale from faa museum
2658/42 tower at dale from faa museum
It looks like the Airfix one! and not glued together too well either. :)
According to NP's book Control Towers, 2658/42 is an addition of an observation room to a 'standard!' Watch Office for Fighter Stations.
This deviation was used for Chedworth, Dale, Lympne and Wellingore.
The 'base' for this type seems to be 17658/40 - Calverley, Condover, Fearn, Fowlmere and many others.
Other 'base' numbers include 1438/40 and 18441/40 and 3156/41.
Paul mentions that the latter had four foot high windows, whereas the others depict 3' windows - however in fact all are actually four foot!
North Creake Control Tower 1988. The small wooden sign at the front by the left tree says, The Old Control Tower.
KingsCliffe Tower with me in the way 1988.
Definately Hethel this time !! September 8th 1988.
Does anyone know if detailed builders construction drawings are still avalible for the Watch office 12779/41? Any help in tracking a set down would be greatly appreciated.
North Luffenham March 2009. Taken from about 750 metres.
Surely some body can help? There seems to be plenty of referance to drawing numbers, but do they still survive? Plans are in motion to save a well known tower but we need to the plans.
I think we have drawings in the archive, hopefully norwichpaul can confirm!
Have you tried contacting the RAF Museum at Hendon, they have a large stock of plans too.
I think we have drawings in the archive
Talking of which, how do we know what is in the archive, and how do we access it?
Yes we do but access is denied i am afraid, simply because we have thousands of drawings and its just not possible right now to access them or copy them. However it is possible to get copies at the RAFM, give DORIS a ring and part with two pounds and 12779/41 is all yours. That is the best I can do for now until we move to Upwood.
This is Seighford Control Tower, I hope? This photograph was sent to me by someone, an unknown amount of years ago, I promised to post this up to someone a while ago as and when I found it. So here it is....
A couple of photographs I took of Ingham [Cammeringham], Control Tower in July 1987.
In the background is Wyton's control tower before the institutional green paint job:
This photograph is a copy of a copy...and so-on. But it's Horham Control Tower 1944/5. This was sent to me quite a few years ago by someone...?
Sorry forgot this one, Ingham, Cammeringham. 1987.
Bodney Control Tower 1987.
Shipdham Control Tower 1987,and from the roof towards the runways...theres that Cortina again.
Langham Tower summer 1998.
Framlingham / Parham
A copy of the original war-time photograph given to me by Mr Ian L Hawkins about eight years ago, Ian is the Editor of the 390th BG newsletter and the Author of two excellent books that I know of, got both. He may have done others...
Barkston Heath, the "proper " one is being refurbished
3 picture stitch of the Control Tower at RAF Lakenheath
Martlesham Heath one this time taken during WW2 during the stay of the 356th Fighter Group. It certainly looks different to today
Ludham Control Tower 1-8-89.
Duxford - 1989
Atcham, Shropshire - unknown date
From the 7'' by 5'' picture I was sent I enlarged it to A3 it looks great !!
Just to the right I can see the tail end of a P-38 or two P-47s it's a bit distorted, but definitely the nose of a P-47 on the extreme right, not in very clear in this copy though.
Swinderby, Lincolnshire - 2000
Photographs taken 18-7-2000.
Tangmere - 2001 & 2008
First photograph taken about 2001, rest 2008.
All these three photographs were sent to me years ago by someone[s] the only one with the date included is Dallachy, 1992. Many thanks to who-ever posted them to me.
Little Staughton Control Tower 1998.
Can anyone spot the 'fort' WO in this footage? Summing up 18, reel 1
Yep seen it, but won't tell anyone where it is yet - let others see if they can spot it!
Is that a fort type watch office or a superfort coded "WO" :)
Saw the watch office, it was on a minor airfield of little importance with very few people based there.
The clue Peter is that this is the AiX forums and we are in general airfield discussion. It it was a superfortress that I was refering to then you would be over on the Key forums!
Kirkbride Tower as it is today after being rebuilt as a club house.
It isn't in use as a tower, this structure was built onto the modern hangers for that purpose
A photograph of a photograph. I took this at the Shipdham flying club on 29-6-1988.
RAF Fairford. (RIAT 2009)
Wickenby Control Tower July 21 1988.
Windrush Control Tower, Gloucestershire
Photographs taken 24-07-09. The plaque is just out of the balcony shadow.
http://i37.photobucket.com/albums/e82/airfieldsman/window0004-97.jpgMartlesham Heath 1998.
I found this photo of 611 Squadron at Hunsdon in 1945.Could the tall building at the back be the control tower?
Finmere 13726/41, 15683/41
RAF Ternhill's, sorry still trying to find A/M no. Taken 2007
Shawbury 'new' tower and Seahawk. Thanks to 'Arthur' for the pic.(Newish ground radio section behind the tower)
Drg No 2548c/55 ?
Honeybourne Control Tower as of 24-7-09. The people living there told us that it will soon be demolished and could we help... Sadly we couldn't get any front-end shots as it's completely overgrown.
Bardney (summer 2009) .
I know this tower has already been posted on this thread but i love this shot i took as the sun was setting across the old airfield -
.... or maybe it's too tall :confused:
I think you're right Jim, looks like it is a watch office. I think the height thing is a bit of an illusion, and that it is of a relatively small and slender design that is nearer the aircraft than it appears - if that makes sense!
Few of Shawbury's old and new tower's
1938 Chief Flying Instructors Block, 5740/36
(The red and white pole is a lighting tower behind the old tower)
1958 Post-war Control Tower Vertical Split Control Type 2548c/55
Extension built on to rear of Tower u/k year
Taken Aug 20009
Leicester East (6,9,09) -
Brize Norton Control Tower, incorporating Cotswold Radar in 1979. Drawing No.....I have no idea!!
B-24 with 518/40 tower in background. Guess it must be Horsham St Faith?
Does anyone know if the the glassed bird cages on top of wartime watch towers were built to a set design and drawing or just locally produced? The only one i have really seen is at Coleby grange but would appreciate any pictures of others.
They were built to a drawing number but I do not have it at hand. The Coleby Grange example is a night fighter version, similar to Atcham and Tangmere. The more common Uni-Seco design was built above some bomber, bomber sat and bomber OTU atations.
Thanks for the reply, i'm mainly interested in the Bomber Command variant.... Was it smaller than the Coleby grange type?
I saw this obscure building a few weeks ago and stopped to ask a lady on horseback if she knew anything about it. She told me that light aircraft land there occasionly but didn't know of it's history. An elderly chap told me about a Wellington crashing there during the war with the entire crew being killed. Their bodies were kept in a barn he pointed to til recovery. But he didn't know of the areas wartime existence. Anyone got a clue as to this buildings true character, or have I just wasted four photographs ??
Where is it Airfields Man??
Certainly not a waste of photies, got me intrigued, where did you take them?
Sorry I forgot to say where this building is. It's roughly where the word Childswickham is on the copy below.The elderly chap that I spoke to said that he didn't know of any memorial to the Wellington crew, but the woman on the horse told me of a memorial to a Harrier pilot who crashed half a mile or so from the '' Tower''. I'll post this up later today.
cant see any airfileds on the defence of britain database for that location, honeybourne is to the north and stoke orchard to the south west wich has a battle headquarters, but nothing there.
It's roughly where the word Childswickham is on the copy below.
Any chance of more detail AM - its a big area here (http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=52.048802081760805&lon=-1.900034609558289&gz=14&oz=7>=1). Had a browse and couldn't find it.
I'm sorry carnaby, but there's little-more information that I can give. I drive into Childswickham from Broadway along the narrow village road [yellow on your map display] that continues on from the B4632. Turn left into Buckland Road, half a mile or so from the village there's a slight bend to the left, at this juncture a track leads off to the right along to this building. This would be roughly on your map just above the name Aston, of Aston Somerville. Hope that this is of help to you.
If I decoded your description right, it would be this square building?
If so, afraid that building wasn't there post war, just a couple of sheds.
If I decoded your description right...
I don't think it's the right place OneEighthBit, as according to AM it's above the name 'Aston', though I have to say I got lost when following the roads around Buckland. Couldn't find anything north of Aston.
Then it must be the square object here:
Well done Peter, I followed the track back to the narrow public road that leads back to Childswickham crossroads. The pub is on the right corner just past the private house that I call at with the vehicle parked outside of it.
Then it must be the square object here:
Well done Peter
Yes well done Peter, but it still isn't 'just above the name Aston'.
Airfields Man you sent me on a Wild Tower Chase :-D. Merry Xmas
Yes airfields man, don't apply for any jobs as a navigator!:-o
Well I did only say ROUGHLY, and OneEightBit decoded and found the TARGET, so my navigation can't be all that bad...can it?? May have mentioned this before? but my dad trained as a Navigator in 1944 first in a Whitley from Worminghall[Oakley] later from Brize Norton. Surplus to requirments eventually. To those who condemned my poor navigation:roll: Happy Christmas:grin:
I've tried following the directions as well and end up at the same point as 1/8th! I can't see anything of interest on the 1940's map. then only thought I had was that maybe..
a) its been relocated from somewhere elese
b) its something to do with pershore or honeybourne.
I'll keep looking as the architecture really does say control tower!
Something tells me its a case of "seeing what you want to see". Just looks like a smallish prefab dwelling to me neatly fitted into the available space.
Does anyone know what type of VCR this is? Does anyone have dimensions and/or drawings (or know the RAFM drawing/ref number)? Note the glazing differs but the shape (inc. sloped roof) is the same.
Many thanks in advance.
RNAS Hal Far:
Interesting way of putting it Andy, as the main windows, base, and shape (all different to Merryfield example) look similar to the classic 2548/55 'vertical split' type, but the roof is different!
Huh, good points, well made! :shock:
For some reason my eye hadn't registered the fact that the base is different. Now I see that I can't help but think they're different VCRs after all. :oops:
I'd kinda dismissed the glazing and fixated on the shape of the roof! :oops:
But the [slightly modified] question remains, does anyone which type of VCR these are? Dimensions/drawings etc.?
Theres a very good book out there somewhere, by some chap that knows stuff about Control Towers.
I have a copy under the sofa somewhere, along with the old TV remote and loads of dust and food, it was light blue in colour (the book) and by some blokes called Francis & Paul?
Would mind another copy actually if he could be located, mainly to keep the sofa level and also because i've got a friend who would like a copy.
I wait for a reply from someone in the know?
Yup, got Control Towers. Unfortunately these VCRs aren't featured. :(
That 'good' book, that Jerry so fondly speaks of has been out of print for years and was written before I was able to locate plans of Naval control towers. Hense it only covers Air Ministry designs and not Admiralty. Any way I have never found plans of Naval VCRs but knowing that the Admiralty were even more into standardisation that the AM, I would like to suggest that the VCR at Hal Far and Merryfield, came from the same basic drawing although the Malta version is slightly different as MM suggests. This maybe because the Hal Far version was built in Malta (bearing in mind the hot sun out there and extreme glare etc), the Merryfield version has been modernised (re-glazed) - or something like that.
Many thanks for your reply Paul.
Do you know if the archive at the Fleet Air Arm Museum (FAAM) has any drawings for towers and VCR? If so, they'll be my next port of call.
No, the museum dont have any RNAS building drawings (we have in the archives), but the air station might - they will have a clerk of works who keeps all the base drawings for Yeovilton and Merryfield.
I still lean towards the Hal Far VCR having more in common to the RAF 'vertical split' type (proportions, shape, windows etc seem just so) than it is to the Merryfield type. The main deviation is the pointed roof, but even this differs slightly to Merryfield example and is also similar to RAF VHB VCR!
If it is established that the HF example is based on the 'vertical split' type, I do have two sets of plans with dimensions for this type of VCR.
Merryfield seems typical of satellite and smaller airfields that seem to have odd types of VCRs added.
NP is right about FAAM Yeovilton, they don't carry any building info and the very basics on airfield info, the last time I spoke to them they couldn't even point my in a direction to look.
TNA does hold some odd bits of info on some FAA airfields and buildings.
I wouldn't hold out hope for Merryfield type though, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was built by a local firm to basic guidelines. They might allow you a visit with a tape measure if you contact them directly though. Predannack tower is very open to visits.
Cant you save a set for the archives MM?
A couple of my very early photographs of Lavenham tower. First one taken February 1987 second taken May same year. Note the people on the roof who were waiting for a group of veterans to visit. Sadly I had to go as I was working that sunday morning and the coach bringing the party was running late. Notice also that only one plaque was fixed to the tower at that time.
My first attempt at sending photos direct.
Sorry not more specific with dates
Deenethorpe's current "tower", 21st January 2010:
All the best,
Can anyone identify this CT for me please. Image taken in 1983
Wheaton Aston 2010
A few more of Shepherds Grove 1988.
Four more from our visit to the tower museum. Bassingbourn.
Wacs Attached To An 8Th Air Force Base In England Gather Around The Control Tower To Watch For Planes Returning From A Mission. 30 April 1944.
In this picture you can just see the WWII tower:
And could'nt resist getting this one:
Wacs Attached To An 8Th Air Force Base In England Gather Around The Control Tower To Watch For Planes Returning From A Mission. 30 April 1944.
Is it the angle, my eyes or is the balcony about to drop off. Any idea which airfield this is ??
Photograph showing the THREE Watch offices extent at Wadington in the early 'OO's ...
Villa type at Lindholme.
Taken in September 1996 with my BT van alongside ...
Been routing around for other 'stuff' and dug these out ...
What was formerly RAF Turnhouse, was when i was there; Nov. 1996, was on the market. Got a couple of snaps of the Watch Office ...
Dont recall much left at Kingscliffe although the Ops Block was located behind the tower and i did also photograph them 'mushroom' style pill-boxes ...
How i ended up at Husband Bosworth i dont know but this photo was taken in Oct. 1990 ...
Does anyone have any internal pictures of Binbrooks tower before and after it was extended in the late 50,s early 60,s.
Trying to draw up a floor plan layout but woul like to include fittings etc and room names.
Hope someone might be able to help as pictures are hard to find of the inside.
Thanks in advance.
Things have been a bit quiet on this thread lately so heres a few new ones -
Stratford (2010) -
Syerston (2010) -
Two from Finmere (2010) -
Swinderby's 2nd Tower. A matter of days before being demolished (2010)-
Desborough..That is literally all that remains sadly (2010) -
Spanhoe. Pretty much the same as Desborough now! (2009) -
Long Marston.(New renovation almost complete) (2010)-
Ingham (Half way through it's 'face-lift') (2009) -
Turweston (2010) - Probably the hardest tower to get a decent photograph of ever!!!!!!! -
Wittering, early 80's
Church Lawford (2010) -
I'm trying to find drawings and dimensions for the 3-story variety of Standard Tower - Naval Type watch offices, an example of which is RNAS Hinstock (HMS Godwit), as seen here in Graham's photo:
Here is a modernised example (converted into a house) at RNAS Hinstock (HMS Godwit), as posted by REF on the regular Control Towers thread:
I've read the section on naval watch offices in British Military Airfield Architecture, which states the basic design had a footprint of 30' 3" x 38' 3" and could be built as either single, two or three story. Does 3860/42 cover all of these? Does anyone know the vertical dimensions?
Hopefully 3860/42 is the correct one to go after, but is this drawing held at RAFM or FAAM?
Looking at the Index of Building Plans Held in the Royal Air Force Museum (in Airfield Review July 2006) 3860/42 appears to be abscent (although I hope I've simply overlooked it). :( Can anyone confirm??
Being cheeky would anyone who owns said drawings allow me a peek?! :wink:
I'm trying to create a replica of Steeple Morden's tower in Sketchup & I was wondering if the drawings for that type of tower are readily available, or if not if one of you kind people has a copy could you let me know the dimensions.
What I would like is height, width (28'?), length (33'?) and sizes/positons of the windows.
Photos of the sides and back of Steeple M's tower also seem to be hard to come by, but I suppose that's not unusual as it was demolished years ago and those bits are (In my opinion) less photogenic.
I've already mostly done a 13726/41 for my Desborough model you can have what I've done if it helps.
Thank you both for your replies.
Paul, I was aware of those towers and indeed have studied the pictures closely. Most of them have different window sizes on the front face tham Steeple M, but should be alright for guesstimate the relative sizes. I assume all 13726/41s were of the same overall size?
Buccaneer66, many thanks for your kind offer and I would be most grateful. This is my first attempt at using SketchUp and compared to FS Design studio I'm finding it more intuitive, but I've yet to try creating windows and texturing.
All 13726/41s should be pretty much identical, with variations to the control room windows as instructed/required.
Normally the additional drawing numbers for these modifications will be included on the site plan index.
Assuming this design was amended in parallel with the larger 12779/41 tower, the original pattern would have had Large Windows for the control room and watch office (5 panes high, 4 wide at Enstone).
The next amendment would be Small Windows (2 high, 4 wide) for both these rooms, as at Thorpe Abbots. I believe this is Dwg. No. 15683/41.
The final amendment would be Medium Windows (4 high, 4 wide), usually just for the upstairs control room but officially for both floors as at Condover.
In the case of Steeple Morden's tower, the watch office downstairs had small windows to 15683/41, but the upstairs windows were replaced with some even larger than the original large windows, a mighty 6 panes high and 4 wide.
I believe this was done during the USAAF's tenure, mainly as the patched and repainted rendering is clearly visible in the 1945 colour photos on the Controltowers website.
I'll have a plug through Footnote and see if I can narrow the date down.
All the best,
Thanks for the info. Can I ask, were the individual window panes all the same size regardless of the overall window size?
Iam currently building a model of the tower at Bardney.
I measured the whole building, drew up the plan and now in construction from 40 thou plasti-card.
At that awful stage of completing the balcony rails ...
Any details you require i can take from my plan as the Hendon copy is REALLY POOR quality
Thanks for the offer, if I get stuck I'll take you up on that offer.
RAF Wittering (2010) -
I don't suppose that it has any airfield connection at all, but it does have that converted tower look about it I think. Also it has a very large flat field infront of it and is on the same side as RAF Benson at just one mile away and is called Cloud Cottage. This is at the appropriately named village of Warborough. 8-)
You dont see that many flat roofed houses in this country, in fact my dad was in the building trade and apparently at one time they werent allowed under the building regs.
While delivering to a very ultra modern house a couple of months ago, I was looking at it and wondering what it reminded me of.
When I told the bloke it reminded me of an old airfield control tower... only uglier, he became quite upset. 'Do you mind' he said, 'I designed this myself!' No sense of humour apparently..sniff.
A popular design in the 1930s was a villa style control tower lookalike. Most are still there in our area as they have balconies which I assume were considered "posh" at the time.
Use the attached GE file and Streetview looking east.
RAF Charlton Hawthorne RNAS Heron II has a better example
2524RAF Charlton Hawthorne was built as a hidden airfield and all the info I can find says that the control tower was built OFF the airfield. So myself and many others thought this was the CT. It was built by a local farmer, some say pre war & others post war!! The owner told me categorically that 'IT WAS NOT A CONTROL TOWER'. This could be a double bluff though???? I leave it to you.
http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=51.00948685331085&lon=-2.50963032245636&gz=19&oz=8>=2 just pan north and you Will come upon the airfield, look carefully and see if you can see the battle HQ, follow the road and its on the left of a cross roads (the perimeter track).
At Oving, Bucks, I go past a pile of rubble that once looked very similar to the building above shown by Richard This one even had a part balcony and support posts on the corners. It was knocked down a few years ago to make way for a house to enjoy the same view over the countryside to the Chilterns. Just wish that I had photographed it years ago... kept meaning to....
This appeared recently on the web, purporting to be something to do with National Geographic mag. I can't find any more details. Could be Husbands Bosworth tower after quite a serious tsunami...
And of course I forgot to attach the photo!
A sign of things to come Dave! Good photo though.
bang goes the unsinkable aircraft carrier theory!
Excellent, Mr Kebecker!
Anyone watch the one show the other night? A bit off post but they did an item on PLUTO(did you know the pipes are still in situ?) anyway they showed a house that had been converted to a pumping station for PLUTO in 1943. It was a 30s design, and looked like a small version of this particular house.
There was another Tv programme this week which mentioned PLUTO. It said , because of the importance of the project - in particular the pumping stations - they were disguised as houses and FACTORIES. Now there's a nice safe building that was immune from bombing. I had subtitles on at the time - evidently some of the pipelines went to 'share Bourg' :roll:. But if its on TV it must be correct, despite Alcock and Brown's Vickers Vinny captioned also last week. The previous week we had a US State called 'Loose wheezy Anna'
I rarely use subtitles for this reason.
Looking for a plan of an RAF watch office. Preferrably a plan of a wartime office as opposed to expansion period or post war. Other than this no preferrence for airfield or type of office. Need a copy for a research paper Im doing here on the continent.
Giving this a bash
Looks good Abel Mabel - what scale? 1/72?
Yes its 4mm
Dont know yet what colour scheme but do believe early scheme was brown with black as seen on Expansion stations such as Manby and Binbrook
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