When the group began work on the control tower there were no windows or doors, the bay window was about to collapse, the internal walls had been white washed and it was knee deep in cow muck!
Fast forward to present day and the Control Tower building is now restored to its 1940’s condition and has been setup inside as it was during the war years. It has taken a lot of hard work from our voluntary team over a period of 10 years to get the control tower into its present condition.
First hand accounts from personnel who served on the airfield during the war have allowed us to recreate the internal layout of the control tower as it would have been.
The information on our flight boards is from just on day, the 23rd October 1941.
The control tower at former R.A.F. Carew Cheriton or to use the correct British terminology watch office has not been constructed to a set pattern. It is referred to in articles on the subject as being built to a “local design”. Heaps, a local building firm from the nearby seaside resort of Tenby were awarded the contract to build the control tower during 1941, the exact date is not known.
The current structure was built to replace the original watch office, which was situated 50 metres to the west on the opposite side of the taxiway. The brick and concrete base of the original building can still be seen today standing over a metre above ground level. Standing on this concrete base one can see the outlined of the timber structure that formed the watch office. The structure was the wheelhouse that came from the ship “Montrose” remembered for its connection with Dr. Crippen and the radio message from the ship that sealed his fate. On the 1945 plan of the airfield this building with the reference number 64 is listed as the “duty crew room”.
The replacement structure has a number of notable features worthy of mention:
- Single storey construction with the observation room on the roof.
- The prominent bay window on the southern elevation.
- A dry limestone wall surrounding the building for drainage purposes.
- An earth blast mound surrounding the building for protection.
The building is constructed from local clay bricks with solid external walls 16″ (400mm) thick. Internally the main central wall is of the same thickness together with the dividing walls on the right of the corridor. These walls in turn support the solid concrete flat roof and observation room. The remaining internal walls are single brick 4″ (100mm) thick. The 6″ (150mm) solid concrete roof is cover with a layer of asphalt. Windows are of steel construction manufactured by Crittal, and are a mixture of casement and top hung styles.
Access to the building is via a FLB door on the eastern elevation, which is, protected by two tapered blast walls. On entering the central corridor toilets, flag store and met. Office 2.97m x 1.93m are off to the left. To the right the first door leads into the map and visiting pilot’s room 3.66m x 2.44m. The second door accesses the control room 7.34m x 3.66m. To the left on entering this room the pyrotechnic store with its steel doors can be seen. Two steps elevate the bay window. To the right a door leads into the duty officer’s rest room 1.85m x 3.00m.
At the end of the corridor a vertical steel ladder gives access to the observation room 3.0m x 3.0m. From this room an under sized door gives access onto the roof. The external steel staircase is not original and is an addition to comply with building regulations and was installed during the renovation project.
The external single brick 4″ (100mm) lean to generator (switch room) 3.56m x 2.44m is attached on the western side and accessed via a FLB door.
All floors are solid concrete with a screed finish. Water, electric and foul drainage have been re-connected to the building and heating is by means of electric tube heaters.