Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust

by | 1 September 2022 | Gainsborough, Heritage

The famous Battle of Britain airfield Kirton in Lindsey has been honoured with one of the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust’s latest memorials.

As a result of long planning and co-operation with North Lincolnshire Council and close working with Kirton in Lindsey Town Council, the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust (ABCT) – the world’s first national airfield charity – unveiled its 198th memorial on Sunday 7th August to commemorate Kirton in Lindsey Airfield.

Opened in May 1940, Kirton in Lindsey airfield played a major part in the Battle of Britain and saw various Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire and Boulton Paul Defiant fighter squadrons based here at this critical time. Following the Battle, fighter units mounted more offensive sorties, residents including the three American volunteer Eagle squadrons serving under RAF control, while other squadrons – often involving foreign nationals from Australia, New Zealand and Poland – either formed or worked up at this busy airfield.

From May 1943, Kirton in Lindsey adopted a training role for the next two years with the arrival of No 53 Operational Training Unit and its Spitfires and Miles Masters. The nearby satellite airfield of Hibaldstow was also being extensively used.

Peacetime saw a mixture of yet more important flying and ground instruction training given by several schools until the RAF eventually passed Kirton in Lindsey to the Army in December 1965. However, the RAF returned to the airfield in 2004 to house air defence radar unit No 1 Air Control Centre, which subsequently moved to Scampton – home of the Dambusters sadly due to close at the end of 2022 – in 2012.

Kirton in Lindsey has faced considerable uncertainty since the RAF left but the control tower and hangars still remain among many other facilities, with the former now being a listed building along with the command centre building. Civilian winch-launched sailplanes of the Trent Valley Gliding Club nevertheless maintain flying connections and have done so since the mid-1970s. Always a grass airfield, Kirton in Lindsey to this day remains highly popular and equally regarded, not only in terms of its history but clearly just at local level alone.

The ABCT charity’s objective in this regard is to eventually commemorate each known major disused airfield in the United Kingdom with one of two forms of standardised granite memorial – nearly 200 have already been unveiled to clearly major effect, with hundreds more being planned.

The location of the memorial is near to the northern edge of airfield at junction of B1398 (South Cliff Road) and B1400 roads. The What3Words address is:

Also see ABCT’s and associated social media pages for further details.