Suffolk Aviation Heritage Group

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RAF Trimley Heath

One of Suffolk's most recognisable roadside structures is an imposing red-brick building set, half hidden by trees, alongside the east bound A14 carriageway opposite Trimley St Martin. Yet, of its many millions of passers-by over the last fifty years, its historical significance is known, probably, by no more than a comparative handful of people, mainly those who served at the site during wartime or while undergoing post-war National Service.

Ironically, the most common assumption amongst those who have ever wondered - that the building was once an electricity supply industry substation - is also the most accurate. It was in fact the Standby Power House for RAF Trimley Heath, a Ground Controlled Interception (GCI) radar station whose important role in Britain's air defence network was masked and largely forgotten after a devastating fire which destroyed almost all station records.

In November 2003 Suffolk Aviation Heritage Group embarked on a feasibility study into the potential for conserving the RAF Trimley Heath site in the interests of protecting and highlighting its local heritage value. A major aspect of the study was the unravelling and collation of the station's history, which had become muddled by a mix of popular misconception and local myth. The scarcity of original records had given rise to stories of subterranean nerve centres, with plotting tables still in situ, and tunnels leading over the site. Some have been included as fact in local aviation histories.

The true history of RAF Trimley Heath is no less interesting, if not intriguing, and reveals - as is often the case - that the myths surrounding the site are rooted, at least, in elements of documented events and decisions.

In 2004, the research carried out by Suffolk Aviation Heritage Group was collated into an exhibition and staged at a number of Suffolk venues to significant acclaim. Since 2011, a re-constituted version of the exhibition has been on public display at the Suffolk Aviation Heritage Museum. The Group's highly regarded booklet RAF Trimley Heath, the Forgotten History of an Established Suffolk Landmark is also on sale in the Museum Shop.

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