This event coincides with the annual “Heritage Open Days” arranged by the Ipswich Society.

Our Control Tower Museum is on the list of buildings of particular interest. It will be open as usual and visitors are welcome to view the museum and enjoy our Classic Car Meet as well.

See the Ipswich Society Heritage Open days


On a very warm morning on August 3rd a coach load of us set forth to visit what remains of RAF Tempsford and then on at midday for an afternoon of guided tour of the wonderful Shuttleworth Collection of historic aircraft at Old Warden airfield.

The Countess of Errol welcomed us to the now derelict site of RAF Tempsford. Lady Errol lives at nearby Woodbury Hall and owns the land that was once a most secret airfield. Because it was from here that agents, both men and women, flew to be parachuted into occupied Europe. Their mission was to co-ordinate resistance groups and maintain a link with England to ask for supplies. Intelligence was a two way operation by the cumbersome suitcase sized radios that could both transmit and receive.

We were taken to a group of wartime buildings on what is now called Gibraltar farm and then on to a famous old barn. Here the trained agents would receive all the necessary equipment they would require, including the awful suicide pill.

Lady Errol has plans to develop the area for housing but is passionate to preserve the history of an airfield that as far as we know remained a secret throughout the war. Certainly it was never attacked. The existing buildings will remain. It is so important to preserve the memory of those brave men and women who flew from here. Many did not return.

We thanked Lady Errol and made our way the few miles to the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden airfield.

Most of us have visited the Shuttleworth Collection before, but it is such a wonderful collection of aircraft from the Edwardian era through the Great War and beyond that one is always grateful to the dedication of the folk who maintain the aircraft and make it such a pilgrimage!

We were divided into four groups and spent the next couple of hours looking through the hangars housing these historic machines. It was great to be taken round by  the knowledgeable guides.

One of the many gems of the collection is the actual aircraft that won the famous Mildenhall to Melbourne air race in 1934. The Comet 88 is now in immaculate condition and regularly flies on events at Old Warden. We were accused of crashing the Comet when it was at RAF Martlesham on development trials. It was severely bent and had to be rebuilt.  We tried to explain that we were not personally responsible for that incident!

 Other wonderful machines included a couple of Edwardian veterans that were flown in that great film, "Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines." They all still fly, including the Bleriot X1 monoplane similar to the one that famously flew the Channel in 1909.

The idea for the outing was dreamed up by our energetic Publicity secretary, Howard King. A recent monthly meeting featured Debbie Land and Peter Goff entitled, "Time Flies at Old Warden." gave him the idea to organise the trip and a great day out it was.

We eventually boarded the coach and I am sure that all of us enjoyed our day out and offer our grateful thanks to Howard, who once again came up trumps.

Alan Powell

The plaque in the church of St Peter Tempsford

Lady Errol addressing our members