RAF Ibsley was one of 12 RAF and USAAF airfields in the New Forest, Hampshire in WWII. It helped defend Southern England and played its part in the D-Day invasion in 1944 and was operational between 1941 and 1946, finally closing in 1952 having also been used as a car racing circuit. RAF Ibsley was located about 2 miles North of Ringwood, Hampshire to the east of the A338.
RAF Ibsley was used as the location for the filming of 'The First of the Few' premièred in1942, starring David Niven and Leslie Howard, who also directed. RAF Ibsley appears at 6mins 20 secs into the film.
On the 23rd May 1943 there was an air raid on Bournemouth and fighters were scrambled from RAF Ibsley in an attempt to intercept the raid. See here
RAF IBSLEY and Watch Office (Control Tower)
Although most of the airfield site has been dug up for gravel, leaving behind a complex of lakes, several buildings and the derelict Watch Office type 518/40 remains. The Airfield Heritage Trust took on responsibility for the tower in January 2012 with a long term lease from its owners, Sembcorp now Bournemouth Water. The area was returned to Somerton Estates but the Trust retained the Lease.
The tower has been 'rotting' as concrete and masonry can, since its temporary build in 1941 and preventive maintenance has been prevented by the yellow sign warning that entry is forbidden as it is a bat roost. The intention of RAFIAHT was to create a thriving museum providing heritage about an important time in history within the launch area of D-Day. When the superb new facilities at Friends of the New Forest Airfield (FONFA) were provided near Bransgore, this aim had been fulfilled .
The lease was then transferred to the Landmark Trust which has a track record of restoring valued heritage buildings which would otherwise have become ruins. Whilst controversial to some that a 'commercial' Trust becomes involved, the alternative is that yet again a piece of unique heritage is lost. What Landmark are aiming to do is probably the best chance of survival that building has got, or may ever have.
If you would like to see the Control Tower have a new life, then please consider registering your support by 31st January 2024 on the NFDC website below:
It doesn't have to be much, and while it's good to explain why, just to leave a one liner to say they're in support of the application will be a help.
If you, or anyone you know has: