1. ITV Report

Spitfire flypast to mark RAF station closure

RAF Stanbridge in Leighton Buzzard is due for closure in 2012. Photo: Neil Bradford/ITV Anglia

A Spitfire is due to make a flypast at a ceremony marking the pending closure of an RAF base in Bedfordshire which has been in operation since 1939.

The ensign will be lowered for the final time at RAF Stanbridge in Leighton Buzzard in preparation for the official closure next year when the site will be shut for good.

A Spitfire from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight will make a flypast over the base as the RAF Central Band accompany a parade by Stanbridge personnel and the local Air Training Cadets from 1003 squadron.

The celebrations will continue into the evening with live music, a firework display and a flying display from a Hawker Hunter Aircraft, which was once the gate guard at the base.

Head of Establishment at RAF Stanbridge, Flight Lieutenant Steve Hawkins, told ITV Anglia it will be very emotional day for those at the base.

"It is a very important day for the unit, tinged with sadness. We've been here since 1939 and have a great affiliation with the local community. They've supported us and we've supported them. This is the end of an era"

– Flight Lieutenant Steve Hawkins, Head of Establishment at RAF Stanbridge
Original communications centre building at RAF Stanbridge in Leighton Buzzard Credit: RAF
Original communications centre building at RAF Stanbridge in Leighton Buzzard Credit: RAF

RAF Stanbridge was awarded the freedom of Leighton Buzzard in 1988. It opened in 1939 as a communications centre during World War Two. It also played a vital role as a communication base during the Cold War. It later became a trooping centre for personnel heading overseas, before becoming the base of the Supply Control Centre System in 1987. It is now one of the smallest RAF bases in the country with around 100 personnel. It will close in March 2013 when the unit moves to a purpose-built complex in Milton Keynes.

Current communications centre building at RAF Stanbridge in Bedfordshire which is due to close in 2013. Credit: RAF