Location

Throckmorton Airfield, Pershore is situated just outside the village of Throckmorton. The Park is accessible from the main A44 (Worcester to Evesham Road).

Visiting us

Our address

Malvern Optical Ltd
Hangar 3, Throckmorton Airfield, 
Long Lane,
Throckmorton, Pershore
WR10 2JH. United Kingdom.

Pershore Airfield

In June 1934 this grass field became the home of the Worcestershire Flying School who learnt their skills in De Havilland Tiger Moth biplanes.

In 1940, it was requisitioned by The Air Ministry to create RAF Pershore, which included the construction of three runways forming an A-pattern.

Four hexagonal brick & concrete pillboxes were built around the perimeter to protect against land attack. Anti-aircraft positions occupied the flat roofs.

Construction also included a control tower, four T2 hangars and a J-type hangar; which now house some of our facilities such as the Low Light Test Facility and the EMC chamber.

Throckmorton airfield aerial view
Black and white historical photo of RAF aircraft on airfield

The War Years

In February 1941, RAF Pershore became the home of No 23 Operational Training Unit with responsibility to train Canadian crews of the new Commonwealth RAF squadrons. Pershore OTU’s primary aircraft were the Vickers Wellington medium bomber and an Avro Anson twin-engine trainer.

Post-war RAF Pershore

Between 1944–48, the Airfield became home to No. 1 Ferry Unit, moving aircraft from factory to front line operational units overseas. No. 10 Advanced Flying Training School took over until 1954 to train pilots and aircrew in Airspeed Oxfords.

Cold War

During the 1960s, Pershore acted as a dispersal airfield for Avro Vulcan bombers, designed to deliver the UK’s nuclear deterrent.

Research and Development

The Radar Research Flying Unit (RRFU) operated from Pershore between 1957-78 trialling radar test-bed aircraft including the Vickers Varsity and Vickers Viscount.

Pershore’s formal RAF role came to an end during 1978 when it was taken over by the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment.

Jet plane
Disassembled aircraft

The Dark Tunnel (low light test facility) – the early years

In June 1972 the Signals Research and Development Establishment, Christchurch, wrote a short paper regarding simulation of night sky radiation for a “dark tunnel” facility.

Following their merger in 1976 with the RSRE in Malvern, the J-type hangar on Pershore’s site, which was previously use for the construction of wartime aircraft, was chosen to be modified to meet this requirement, with work completed in 1979.

Test, evaluation and adjustment of direct-view image-intensifiers and intensified cameras were primary activities for the newly commissioned Dark Tunnel.

Foot and Mouth, and Romans

Following the 2001 epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease, the Ministry of Agriculture, Farming and Fisheries ordered the slaughter and burning of over 6 million cows and sheep. The Pershore site became the largest mass burial pit in the Midlands for some 130,000 animal carcasses. Excavation of the burial pits did, however, expose the presence of a Roman farmstead and a previously unknown Bronze age cemetery.

In March 2002, Tony Robinson, the host of Channel 4’s “Time Team” came to help excavate the site before the mass burial, using the control tower as their planning base. The team built a mud round-house, made cheese, and cooked a fish stew on an open fire inside Hangar 3.

Time Team
Pershore tower

Commercial Pressures

Privatisation meant the Pershore site – and with it the Low Light Test Facility – were open to market forces.

Over time it became unaffordable for its specialist role and more than fifteen years of alternative usage followed including military vehicle parking and the most recent as a warehouse for garden furniture.

Misuse and abuse left the building in a dilapidated state, parts close to being condemned, the huge boilers beyond repair, and damp and damage throughout.

Fresh Beginnings

Secured by Malvern Optical in conjunction with key Stakeholders, a return to the previous role of research and evaluation was achieved between 2014 and 2019 for the former EO and EME facilities.

Enhancements to storage and communications, refurbished meeting rooms and workshops help extend both its utility and convenience.

Aerial photograph of pershore facility

Get in touch

If you want to find out more about our unique services and if we are a good fit for your projects, get in touch today and we’ll arrange a free consultation.