Three classes of Year 5 children from Winchcombe Primary School have been treated to a visit to Greenham Control Tower. The children were given a lively talk about the history of Greenham and Crookham Common in which they learned about the early settlers, how the common got its name and some of the curious sporting events that once took place there. The common became an airfield in WW2 and played a major part in D Day. In the 1950s the airfield was developed in order to accommodate huge American bombers and boated one of the longest runways in Europe. Later, it hosted the Royal International Air Tattoo and was where, in 1980, Richard Noble broke the British land speed record in his jet powered car Thrust 2. The siting of cruise missiles on the common led to a massive protest and Greenham Common become a familiar name around the world.
Following the talk, which was given by Tower Volunteer Andy Kempe, the children were shown around the tower. On the observation deck they were shown the different sorts of screens needed to monitor the weather and aircraft movements. They also had fun figuring out how an old dial operated telephone worked!
Andy led the children out to what remains of the historic runway where they re-enacted parachuting into occupied France! On their return to school the children were tasked with making a website page about their visit.
Winchcombe teacher Jackie Tarry said, “The children have really enjoyed learning about the Common. To be able see the view from the Control Tower, use a dial telephone and hear from experts has been invaluable. The immersive runway experience of pretending to parachute from the ‘plane over enemy territory was fun! The fact that the volunteers at the Control Tower are able to provide this trip for free has also helped us greatly to enrich the children’s experience.”