FIRST WORLD WAR
In 2009 research began on the site of a WWI aerodrome, located to the east of Sedgeford. The aerodrome began life in the spring of 1915 as a night landing ground for the Royal Naval Air Service; this was a modest operation with only one aircraft on site and primarily acting as a satellite base for the R,N,A,S, Great Yarmouth, South Denes. During 1916 the site was to take on a much more substantial role when it became a training station for the still fledgling, Royal Flying Corps. Tasked with producing pilots for front line combat, a range of buildings and structures were quickly constructed on the site. The buildings largely fell into three categories – technical, domestic and regimental - and were essentially constructed using either timber-framed or ceramic brick.
Throughout the First World War, the aerodrome continued to expand; at its peak, more than 1,200 personnel were stationed at the site. By 1918, Sedgeford aerodrome had become a three-squadron training station. At this time, the site contained over one hundred buildings and even more were in the process of being constructed at the time of the Armistice in November, 1918. At this point building was halted and the aerodrome, while still continuing its training function, was gradually scaled back before it was operationally closed at the end of 1919.
At the end of the war the site was extensively cleared of many of its buildings and structures. Timber-framed buildings, which would have at best left an ephemeral footprint, show no trace today of their presence. Some of the brick-built technical buildings, along with some aircraft hangars, remained in situ until after World War Two, when the site was used as a day and night-time (Q/K) decoy for nearby RAF Bircham Newton.
Assisted by original documentary archives and aerial photographs of the site, since 2009 SHARP has undertaken one of the most comprehensive archaeological surveys of a British First World War airfield. Some of the aerodrome’s original buildings are still standing, others have been stripped down to their foundations, others have been lost to almost 100 years of agricultural activity. However, nearly all of these buildings and structures have been surveyed and plotted on to the site. From this we have been able to phase the development of the site – from its modest roots as a night landing ground, to a two and then three-squadron training station during the First World war, a day and night-time decoy airfield during World War Two and then back to post-war agricultural use, with some residential dwellings also being located on the site.