When local landowner and businessman, Phil Davies of Sealand Ltd, approached Carew Historical Society in the Spring of 2000 few people would have thought a disused cow shed could become a successful wartime museum.
Phil, who runs the Sunday Market at Carew Airfield, was concerned that the dilapidated former RAF control tower building, that had been used as a cow shed for approximately 50 years, was becoming dangerously unsafe and would need to be demolished unless someone stepped forward to save the building.
Members of the Carew Historical Society immediately realised the historical importance of the unique building and formed the Carew Cheriton Control Tower Group to take up Phil’s offer of a long-term lease at a peppercorn rent of £5 per annum.
Supported by many local businesses, Pembrokeshire County Council, the Welsh Office and PLANED, the community based group set about years of hard graft restoring the Control Tower to its original World War Two state.
Control Tower Group Chairman, Deric Brock said “We were fortunate to have within our group of volunteers a variety of skills and trades that helped to bring the museum to fruition. Having a painter decorator, electrician, carpenter and TV repair technician together with plenty of other willing hands was a bonus when we were undertaking the initial renovation work. Now the museum is up and running they are invaluable in maintaining the building.”
Deric said, “Having a retired history teacher in the Group has meant we could develop support teaching materials for schools and pitch talks to children at the appropriate level. With three members of the local Women’s Institute Branch we can provide light refreshments to visiting groups ranging from Cubs and Scouts to WI Branches, PROBUS Clubs and a multiplicity of societies and organisations.”
Younger volunteers in the Group have developed the Control Tower’s website and installed closed circuit TV and electronic security schemes.
Deric continued, “A number of our volunteers are keen modellers but we have been pleased to recently welcome members of the Pembrokeshire Model Club into our community group. We look forward to them creating models that will help visitors better understand what life was like at RAF Carew Cheriton during both World Wars.”
In addition to welcoming organised group visits Carew Cheriton Control Tower is now open on Sundays between 10.00am and 3.00pm throughout the months of July, August and September so that individuals and family groups can visit.
Already many people attending an organised group visit have told museum volunteers that they plan to return with friends and relations when they come to holiday in Pembrokeshire. The Control Tower Group are looking forward to a busy summer.
Deric Brock said, “Our volunteers range in age from their early teens to over 80 but we are always looking for new members. If anyone is interested in joining our friendly group they should come along and see what we do one Sunday this summer.”