Forgotten First World War aerodrome set to get a new lease of life with lottery grant
PUBLISHED: 19:49 12 September 2017 | UPDATED: 19:49 12 September 2017
A largely forgotten and derelict First World War aerodrome in Essex is set to be resorted thanks to a £4.3million lottery grant.
Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome, near Maldon, was taken out of service in 1919, but its buildings and airfield have remained untouched.
Established by the Royal Flying Corps – the forerunner to the RAF – in 1916, the site played a key role in defending London and the British mainland from German zeppelins and Gotha biplane bombers.
Now it is hoped funding from the National Lottery can restore the aerodrome to its former glory and transform it into a visitor attraction.
Ros Kerslake, chief executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund, said: “Stow Maries is a remarkable place, providing a unique insight into First World War aviation.
“The fact that the aerodrome was largely forgotten for so many decades only adds to its mystique and appeal, but also means that surviving structures are in such well-preserved, original condition.
“This support from the National Lottery will help Stow Maries become the major visitor attraction it deserves to be.”
The aerodrome has been left in a state of disrepair since the late 1970s, when historians and military aviation enthusiasts recognised its importance.
Thanks to them, Stow Maries has seen buildings opened to the public, a shop and café set up and the number of visitors hitting 12,000 a year in the last five years.
As part of the lottery grant, the site will have five restored, four of which are on the Heritage at Risk register.
A welcome centre will also be built and other buildings restored for permanent and temporary exhibitions, school and private hire use.
It is also hoped the redevelopment will see a community archaeological project, upgrade infrastructure, and create two full-time posts.
Ian Flint, chief executive of Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome Trust, said: “This successful application will help to ensure that Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome has the opportunity to develop into an even more professional visitor attraction and further energise progress on our project.
“This will help us keep Stow Maries where it deserves to be, on the regional, national and international heritage stage as a premier location for early military aviation history and the Great War in the air.”