Extracted From The Official Programme Marking The Closure Of The Station In 1962
Demolition Of Britain Block At Former RAF Bircham Newton – An Account By William (Dixie) Dean 40th Entry
Britain Block at RAF Bircham Newton was built in the late 1930s
During the period AATS was located at Bircham (1959-62) it was one of two barrack blocks which accommodated apprentices of the Supply trade.
The block was demolished in August 2011 to make way for a new accommodation unit for the Construction Apprentices of the National Construction College (NCC) which has been located at Bircham since its closure and subsequent sale by MOD in the late 1960s.
The external and internal photos were taken just before it was demolished. The large open plan dormitories from the RAF apprentice days had been converted by NCC into single rooms but they were of poor standard with stark interiors. The screw holes of the old over-head bed lights could still be seen, as could sections of the wooden flooring that the apprentices had cherishingly ‘bumpered’ to a high standard! The ablution areas had changed very little over the years.
The masking cover over the external air vents was to prevent bats entering the building which, had they done so, could have prevented the block from being pulled down!
John Nash (38th) located his former bunk (also known as ‘the 38th Entry Smoking Room’) which was a privilege he occupied as an LAA.
To mark the demolition of Britain Block a ‘ wrecking crew’ of former admin apprentices gathered at Bircham hosted by NCC Project Manager Bill McGonagle and a Construction Skills trainee Brad Delfino. Back Row L to R: Barrie Loftus (41st), John Nash and Chris Rowe (both 38th). Front Row: Bill McGonagle, Brad Delfino and Dixie Dean (40th). (Picture 9)
The demolition starts with Brad Delfino showing Dixie Dean where to strike the first blow! However, it was achieved much more quickly by using ‘big boys toys’! (Picture 10)
Amongst one of the very last RAF occupants of Britain Block was John Wells (44th) shown on the right, with Dixie, some fifty years later on the steps of the block for the very last time. John was a Standard Bearer at the closing down ceremony of RAF Bircham Newton on 18 December 1962 and then moved to RAF Hereford with the 45th and 46th Entries to complete their training. (Picture 2)
After a hard mornings work ‘the crew’ enjoyed refreshments at The Birches (former RAF Officers’ Mess).