(Image: Mat Fascione; converted control tower at the former RAF Wainfleet)
It coordinated operations across the UK MOD’s bombing ranges on the Lincolnshire coast. But now the former RAF Wainfleet control tower has been transformed into a holiday cottage – and offers stunning views over the sand flats that NATO aircraft once attacked on combat training sorties.
RAF Wainfleet on The Wash opened as a military firing range in August 1938, but had been used for target practice by the 1st Lincolnshire Artillery Volunteers as early as 1890. There’s also evidence at may also have been used during the Napoleonic Wars.
(Image: Chris; adaptive reuse of the old control tower)
During World War Two the range at RAF Wainfleet was used by the RAF’s famous 617 Squadron (better known as the Dambusters) to test the Stabilized Automatic Bomb Sight and, as the decades progressed, locals became accustomed to the sight and sound of NATO’s most formidable warplanes firing live rounds and other ordnance across Friskney Flats.
The Wainfleet bombing range remained in use after the end of the Cold War but funding cuts after the turn of the millennium eventually led to its closure in July 2010. Two smaller wooden observation towers were later demolished, but as of this year the main control tower has been repurposed as holiday accommodation.
(Image: Mat Fascione; the Wainfleet control tower before conversion)
As the Skegness Standard reported in March: “Historic RAF Wainfleet has been transformed into “modern and comfortable” holiday accommodation by farmer Will Roughton, who owns the site. It is being let through leading self-catering holiday company cottages.com.”
It added: “The iconic control tower now boasts en-suite bedrooms with modern comforts, and its large glass observatory offers sweeping views across the surrounding nature reserve and over The Wash.
(Image: Ian Paterson; rusting H-beam targets on the Wainfleet range)
Owner Mr Roughton told the newspaper: “With the redevelopment, we have tried to be as true to the site’s history as possible – including naming the rooms after planes that once flew here and displaying items of historical significance on the site, whilst also making the magnificent views accessible to all.”
(Image: Ian Paterson; abandoned ship targets at the former RAF Wainfleet)
Guests can now wander the once-dangerous sands, where the ruins of former range targets (including several abandoned shipwrecks) can still be found. The repurposed control tower is accessed from Wainfleet St Mary by a narrow road called Sea Lane. Jump on Google Earth and you’ll find it a few miles southwest of Gibraltar Point.