North Weald Airfield Control Tower is now officially ‘historic’

Written on . Posted in Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Epping, North Weald Airfield, Older people, Ongar, Our activities, Our attractions, Residents, Your area, Your community

It is now a Grade II Listed Building

Last year an English Heritage Assessment Team visited North Weald Airfield. They took a close look at the Control Tower, which is a Type 5223a/51 tower dating from 1952. On the basis of their recommendations, it is now a Grade II Listed Building:

  • Architectural interest: one of only seven of this type of post-war control tower to be constructed, the tower, which is larger than its predecessors, has an imposing presence and is illustrative of the development of the design of control towers in the face of increased reliance on electronic navigational aids in the post-war period;
  • Degree of survival: an intact plan, with sympathetic replacement windows, it is the best surviving example of its type on a fighter station, and amongst the best surviving overall;
  • Historic interest: a rare physical reminder of the role of RAF Fighter Command in the early years of the Cold War and its re-equipment with jet interceptors;
  • Group value: sited on a fighter station with an illustrious record during World War II, it has group value with the Grade II listed former Officers’ Mess.

Other similar towers were at heavy bomber bases: Upper Heyford, Brize Norton, Fairford, Mildenhall, and Greenham Common, plus Biggin Hill, which was a fighter base. Upper Heyford and Greenham Common are also listed. Mildenhall was demolished in 2004.

The Tower and Gate Guardian

We are delighted that our Tower has received this recognition as a historically significant building. Only last week we hosted a visit by 48 members of the Thornwood Seniors, a local community group, who spent time in the Tower before their tour of the Airfield and hangars.

The two large rooms are frequently used by the Air Ambulance and other organisations for meetings, training courses and functions. They are available for hire. Our Tower Facilities Hire leaflet can be downloaded from the Information for Event Organisers section of the Airfield website at www.northwealdairfield.info.

The Thornwood Seniors recently visited the Tower during their tour of the Airfield

‘Big Cat’ flies out from North Weald Airfield

Written on . Posted in Media, North Weald Airfield, Our attractions, Out and about, Your area, Your community

The Catalina flying boat left North Weald Airfield after 3 years on its first leg to return to the USA.

The eye-catching Catalina amphibian has been based at North Weald Airfield since December 2009. It departed to Biggin Hill on Tuesday 5 March 2013 for further work to be carried out before returning to the USA later this year. It was a sunny day and there was a good crowd to witness its departure on Runway 20.

A team of engineers at Biggin Hill have been preparing the aircraft for its ferry flight over several months, performing engine runs, undercarriage retraction and taxying tests. Its transparent side blisters will also be refitted.

Built at San Diego in 1943, this Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina served with the US Navy for her first 13 years. Unlike many Catalinas, which were subsequently converted to fire bombers, this one was used for aerial survey work in Canada from 1965 with Survair and several other companies, including the famous Spartan Air Services. It was registered as C-FJJG.

The Catalina was returned to the US register as N423RS in the mid 1980s, and after several changes of ownership was operated by Greenpeace for 4 years until 2001. It was then ferried to the UK, and based first at Duxford, then Lee-on -Solent.

The aircraft is painted in the scheme of the Catalina JV928/Y flown by John Cruickshank of 210 Squadron, Coastal Command. He won his Victoria Cross on 17 July 1944 while sinking a German submarine U-347. His navigator was killed after the aircraft suffered a direct hit from flak on the nose. Cruikshank  suffered 72 separate wounds including 2 to the lungs. After a 5 and a half hour flight back to Sullum Voe in the Shetland Islands he managed to land safely, but needed a blood transfusion before he could be removed from the beached Catalina.

Extreme stunt show comes to North Weald

Written on . Posted in Media, North Weald Airfield, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Your area

Motocross and BMX jumping, Monster Trucks and car crashes – come and see one of the most thrilling, exciting and amazing stunt shows ever at North Weald Airfield on Thursday 4 April 2013!

The Extreme Stunt Show LiveNot for the faint hearted, this is a truly courageous sport. Come along and see the thrill of FMX athletes jumping 40ft in the air pulling acrobatic stunts over 100ft gaps.

Watch in awe as highly skilled professional stunt cyclists perform a unique display of tricks including backflips, tailwhips, supermans and 360s to name a few.

Watch the monster trucks, Extreme and Lil’ Devil, power down the arena and fly through the air and the Extreme Team risking life and limb to bring you live action  as the blazing human torch and firewall and the only Honda pilot in the UK jumping a six car gap.

The show starts at 7.30pm, doors open at 6.30pm and lasts for one and a half hours.

Tickets costs

  • Adults £12
  • Child / Concession £6 – children aged 3 to 15 years / disabled people / OAPs
  • Family £30 – 2 adults / 2 children

All tickets are standing only (no seats), there is a viewing area available for the disabled.

You can buy tickets from the ticket hotline on 08444 771000 or online at www.ticketweb.co.uk.

Want to know more?

Visit www.extremestuntshow.com or call the information line on 07729 444395 between 10am and 5pm.

Council Tax freeze agreed by cabinet

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Democracy, Grants, Housing, Local business, Meetings, North Weald Airfield, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Council Tax freeze, new homes and disabled toilets were on the agenda when Epping Forest District Council’s cabinet met on Monday 4 February 2013.

Watch the webcast

Council Tax Frozen

There will be no increase in the Council Tax precept set by Epping Forest District Council if the recommendations of the cabinet are accepted by all councillors when the budgets are set later in February. The annual charge for a Band D property will remain the same for the third year in succession at £148.77.

Cabinet agreed the recommendations to full council despite further decreases in Government grant thanks in part to a number of savings reducing the next financial year’s ongoing revenue budget target to £14.37 million.

Councillor Syd Stavrou Finance Portfolio Holder emphasised Epping Forest District was and would remain a ‘low-tax’ council for the long term.

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of the Council described the report as a ‘good news budget’ with £800,000 of savings coming mostly from ‘back offices’, no enforced redundancies, and fees and charges such as car park pay and display prices kept down. He acknowledged challenges ahead but remained upbeat about the council’s prospects.

After the meeting, Councillor Stavrou said: “At the current time with money so tight, it has never been so important to support local business and keep costs down for hard working local residents. Each member of the cabinet has played an important part in examining all service costs to reduce spending wherever possible while continuing to protect local services. Working with staff, we have found many new and better ways to deliver services without cutting quality and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the process.”

Obsolete bedsits to be converted to new homes

Marden Close, a scheme of 20 bedsit flats developed for older residents in the 1960s is to be converted into 10 modern one-bedroom flats. The vacant buildings had previously proved very unpopular and difficult to let. Cabinet favoured retaining Marden Close rather than pursuing earlier options to transfer it to a social housing landlord. Proposals also found favour with cabinet for the lease of Faversham Hall to Chigwell Parish Council. East Thames Housing Group will project manage the conversions. Works could start on site within 6 months.

Councillors welcomed the scheme which will create much needed accommodation for people on the housing waiting list.

North Weald consultants appointed

Drivers Jonas Deloitte has been appointed to take forward the review of North Weald Airfield. The £145,000 brief is expected to make recommendations for consideration by councillors for the future of the airfield.

Council to fund CAB debt advisors

Cabinet agreed £67,000 to Epping Forest Citizens’ Advice Bureau for the appointment of 2 full-time debt advisors. The funding will cover 2 18 month contracts to begin in April. The agreement includes a commitment from the CAB to support residents through the Limes Centre in Chigwell. This funding is additional money to support homelessness prevention over and above the council’s regular CAB funding of more than £100,000 a year.

Better disabled toilet facilities for Epping and Buckhurst Hill

The accessible superloo currently provided in Bakers Lane Epping is set to be relocated to Buckhurst Hill once a major refurbishment of the Bakers Lane public toilet block has been completed. Cabinet approved additional expenditure of £85,000 for Bakers Lane and £21,000 towards relocating the superloo. The improvements are expected to be especially welcomed by people with disabilities who will find accessibility much improved through the initiative.

Mobile website launched

Written on . Posted in Arts, Business, Consultation, Councillors, Emergencies, Environmental health, Health, Media, Meetings, Museum, North Weald Airfield, Our activities, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Playschemes, Residents, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

If you’re visiting our website from your smartphone you can now choose to use Mobile EFDC – our optimised, cross platform mobile friendly version for news, events, meetings and to report problems when out and about.

Mobile EFDCGo and try it 

Mobile EFDC is simpler, clearer, faster – designed to access information when you are out and about,  focusing on our most popular online services.

A third of our users access information using a mobile device, Mobile EFDC makes it easier to navigate on small screens.

By adding a browser bookmark, or adding a shortcut on your phone homepage you can easily interact or contact us with the press of a button.

Embracing the new Government’s digital by default strategy, Mobile EFDC is part of the ongoing project to improve digital services. The update of the council website in-house using Joomla and WordPress open source software saved the council at least £75,000 in development costs and reduced its annual costs by £20,000.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up-to-date with the latest news.

Media Pack puts Waltham Abbey on the map

Written on . Posted in Business, Countryside and wildlife, Local business, Museum, North Weald Airfield, Olympics, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey

The partnership of local businesses, community and political leaders in Waltham Abbey launched its own Media Pack to raise the profile of the town on Thursday 17 January 2013 at the Marriott Hotel. The Pack in a handy USB keyring contains all the information national and international media organisations need to raise the profile of Waltham Abbey as the town and district seek to promote the local economy through tourism.

Timing of the launch could not have been more appropriate as news emerged of the impending arrival of the Tour de France in Epping Forest as part of a special UK stage between Cambridge and London in 2014. It follows the success of the Olympic Lee Valley White Water Centre, one of a number of new and expanding visitor attractions across the the district. Among those at the launch of the Media Pack were representatives from Secret Island, the new name of the Royal Gunpowder Mills.

The Pack was officially launched by Councillor Liz Webster, Mayor of Waltham Abbey and Epping Forest District Council portfolio holder for Leisure and Wellbeing. Tony O’Connor of Epping Forest District Museum gave a talk on the history of Waltham Abbey from the earliest evidence of prehistoric settlements through to modern times. Waltham Abbey has been at the centre of many historical events with royal associations from King Harold through to Henry VIII.

John Houston of One Epping Forest, the Local Strategic Partnership presented the Media Pack video produced by Chamber of Commerce Member and local businessman John Price. Drawing particular attention to the role played by Norma Green and the hard work of the Waltham Abbey Town Partnership, he congratulated everyone involved in the project.

 

 

New tourism website

Written on . Posted in Business, Local business, Museum, North Weald Airfield, Our attractions, Out and about, Supporting business

The Epping Ongar Railway at North Weald Railway Station was host to the official launch of a new tourism website for the district by members of the Epping Forest District Tourism Partnership.

www.visiteppingforest.org has been developed by some of the key attractions in the district, supported by Epping Forest District Council and the Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce. It provides information on places to visit, eat and stay and how to get here. It is also planned that local groups will be able to upload their events directly to a specific ‘What’s on’ section.

Visit Epping Forest website

Councillor Tony Boyce Chairman of the One Epping Forest Tourism Task Force, which has led on this work said: “Queries have already been answered from film organisations looking for locations, as well as cycling groups looking for somewhere to eat on Sunday mornings. As this website grows, it will generate more interest in the district as a tourist destination.”

He went on to say: “This has been a real partnership producing positive results. Everyone has chipped in with their expertise and resources to make this happen and give this district a site that is new, vibrant and supports the tourism economy right across this corner of Essex. A new leaflet, highlighting the varied attractions is being completed, which will tempt locals to explore their area as well as bring in visitors from further afield.”

Representatives were present at the event from major attractions and local organisations, including Epping Forest District Council, Epping Ongar Railway, the Lee Valley White Water Centre, Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce, Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey Tourism and Epping Forest. All these organisations are looking forward to working together to promote what the district has to offer in terms of places to visit, places to stay and where to eat when visiting the area.

Pictured from left to right
Tony Fenwick Corporation of London, Quentin Buller Epping Forest College, Janet Greene Lee Valley Regional Park, Councillor Tony Boyce Epping Forest District Council, Simon Hanney Epping Ongar Railway, Tony O’Connor Epping Forest District Museum, Vicky Willis Epping Forest District Council, Councillor Glynis Shiel Epping Forest District Council, Norma Green Waltham Abbey Town Partnership, Tricia Moxy Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce

New website launched to boost visitor and tourism economy

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Countryside and wildlife, Local business, Media, Museum, North Weald Airfield, Our attractions, Our countryside, Out and about, Residents, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

An exciting new website has been developed to provide information on places to visit, eat and stay in the Epping Forest district.

Visit Epping Forest logo

Visit Epping Forest website

The new website is to be formally launched on Friday 7 December at 2.30pm.

Members of the Epping Forest District Tourism Partnership will launch the Visit Epping Forest website at a special event at Epping Ongar Railway at North Weald Railway Station.

The website has been developed by the key attractions in the district, supported by Epping Forest District Council and the Epping Forest Chamber of Commerce. It provides information on places to visit, eat and stay and how to get here. It is planned that local groups will be able to upload their events directly to a specific ‘What’s on’ section.

The website has already had 1,800 visitors, who viewed over 5,600 pages during the construction stage. Enquiries have already been answered from film companies looking for locations, as well as cycle touring organisations looking for somewhere to eat on Sunday mornings. As this website grows it will generate more interest in the district as a tourist destination.

Councillor Tony Boyce Chairman of the One Epping Forest Tourism Task Force, which has led on this work said: “This has been a real partnership producing positive results. Everyone has chipped in with their expertise and resources to make this happen and give this district a site that is new, vibrant and supports the tourism economy right across this corner of Essex.

A new leaflet, highlighting the varied attractions is being completed, which will tempt locals to explore their area as well as bring in visitors from further afield. We will soon be announcing a major visitor and tourism summit to enable attractions, restaurants, hotels and shops to come together and plan how we can make so much more of the growing tourism sector to bring investment and jobs into the area in the longer term.”

Cabinet reports to Council on 6 November

Written on . Posted in Arts, Business, Chairman, Council tax, Councillors, Countrycare, Countryside and wildlife, Crime and safety, Democracy, Environmental health, Health, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Meetings, Museum, North Weald Airfield, Our activities, Our countryside, Out and about, Parking, Planning, Prosecutions, Recycling and waste, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Supporting business

The runway at North Weald Airfield, Council Tax freeze, local plan, recycling, welfare reform were all discussed at the full meeting of Epping Forest District Council on 6 November 2012.

Councillor Anne Grigg, Asset Management Portfolio Holder informed members that Halcrow were in the process of being appointed to undertake some non-invasive testing of the structure of the main North Weald runway. This testing is intended to ensure that the runway is suitable for its current uses and will also inform the strategic review of the Airfield.

Councillor Grigg also reported that Cabinet at its meeting in September agreed to commission a strategic review of North Weald Airfield, to be undertaken as part of the development of the new Local Plan. The review should be completed and reported back to councillors in time for the recommended outcomes to become part of the Local Plan “Preferred Options” consultation scheduled to commence in the summer of 2013.

Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor Will Breare-Hall was pleased to report improvement in recycling figures with the quarter 2 out-turn at 62%. In a similar vein, the results for dealing with litter and detritus are also ahead of target.

Councillor Breare-Hall also drew attention to the use of new CCTV cameras in The Broadway, Loughton which have provided a number of leads for fly-tipping investigations. He noted discussions between council officers and Epping Ongar Railway where very few new complaints have been received concerning the heritage railway.

Councillor Breare-Hall’s report concluded with news that following extensive remedial work, the former Bobbingworth Tip has achieved Queen Elizabeth II Field designation. It is now a tranquil and attractive open space. Councillor Breare-Hall said it was a great testament to the hard work of all those involved. A robust commemorative plaque will be placed on site.

Councillor David Stallan, Housing Portfolio Holder reported on the Welfare Reform Mitigation Plan consideration of a proposed new Tenancy Policy and Housing Allocations Scheme for the district.

Councillor Chris Whitbread recommended www.visiteppingforest.org  as one of the new initiatives designed to support and stimulate the local economy through tourism and other avenues. Referring to feedback on the Local Plan, Councillor Whitbread confirmed he had been in discussion with Eleanor Laing MP for Epping Forest concerning many of the issues raised in the Community Choices consultation.

Councillor Mrs Syd Stavrou informed councillors that the Government’s announcement of the latest Financial Settlement would not be made until late December.

Councillor Stavrou had previously announced the Cabinet’s intention to freeze Council Tax for another year. The Government has subsequently announced a grant equivalent to a 1% increase in Council Tax for authorities freezing their charge. Councillor Stavrou was pleased to confirm that Cabinet agreed the parameters set for the 2013/14 budget include no increase in the Council Tax.

Councillor Richard Bassett, Planning Portfolio Holder responded to questions put by members of the public as well as councillors in respect of the Local Plan. He repeated previous assurances that no decisions had been taken on the policies to be included in the new Local Plan. Many public responses had been received in response to the recent Community Choices consultation. Population predictions formed a key element in the forecasts of future development need and Councillor Bassett confirmed he would be meeting regional planning experts in the near future to discuss the latest estimates.

Reports by Leisure and Wellbeing Portfolio Holder Councillor Liz Webster noted progress on the construction of the new ‘3rd Generation Astroturf’ pitch at Town Mead in Waltham Abbey an a number of successful funding bids including.

• £23,500 for adult training in subjects such as IT
• £39,000 for ‘Transitions’ a professional development programme for carers work with people with dementia
• £27,500 of initial Heritage Lottery Funding towards a bid for £1,165,000 for the expansion of Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey

Loughton Leisure Centre users can look forward to better facilities following a decision to spend £240,000 on improvements. Epping Forest District Council will obtain a reduction in its annual management fee to Sports Leisure Management (SLM) of £88,000 per year in exchange for one-off capital funding to improve changing facilities at Loughton Leisure Centre. The deal equates to a three per cent return on investment on the £240,000 capital sum with the added bonus of spending the money to improve the Council’s own property for the benefit of Leisure Centre users.

Councillor Gary Waller Safer, Greener and Highways Portfolio Holder answered questions ranging from parking reviews to the merits of the forthcoming elections for the Essex Police and Crime Commissioner. He also thanked Councillor Leon Girling for suggesting a presentation to Loughton Broadway businesses on the capabilities of the new CCTV systems.

Twilight glow over North Weald

Written on . Posted in Arts, North Weald Airfield, Our attractions, Out and about

Fireworks set to music burst over hot air balloons

Fireworks set to music burst over hot air balloons

Hundreds of people enjoyed an amazing display of light and music at North Weald Airfield on Saturday 22 September 2012. As the sun went down there was feverish activity on the grass next to Runway 12/30 opposite The Squadron. Pilots were preparing seven hot air balloons for inflation and launch – it was all systems go for Twilight Glow.

Gradually the balloons took shape, the flames from their burners glowing brightly in the gathering darkness.

Then the music started playing, and the balloons floated into the air on tethered lines. They were lit up internally by their burners and externally by a light show in time to the music – one by one and in combinations. In a spectacular finale to the event, they were combined with a backdrop of fireworks.