Two former RAF sites have been given a Grade II Listing on the 50th anniversary of the Cold War after the world was on the brink of a nuclear war. They are now the most intact examples of Thor missile sites in England and have been preserved in the landscape to act as a reminder of our close escape from nuclear war.
RAF North Luffenham
RAF North Luffenham is listed as Grade II*, which is now St George’s Barracks; it was one of the four main Thor missile bases. The three launch emplacements can still be seen today, as they remain complete with concrete launch pads and blast walls, mounting bolts for the platforms, which would raise the missiles in to vertical firing position, and the missiles’ fuel pits.
RAF North Luffenham
The sites were formerly known as RAF Harrington, Northamptonshire, which was a satellite base under RAF Luffenham’s control. It is now listed as Grade II and is mainly farmland today. Although it was closed in 1963, the overall plan of the station may be traces as the blast walls, the mounting bolts, concrete launch pads and other original features remain.
Grade II* is categorised as ‘particularly important buildings of more than special interest’, whereas Grade II is ‘buildings that are of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve them’.
The two areas have been recognised for their national architectural and historic significance by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which comes on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis from 16th-28th October 1962.
Dr Simon Thurley, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said, “The remains of the Cold War are fading from view faster than those of the World Wars. Our Cold War Heritage are…the castles and forts of the second half of the 20th century and we want to ensure that the best examples survive. These two missile sites are among the few physical reminders in this country… and they deserve to be protected to remind present and future generations of this knife-edge moment in history”.
To mark the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, English Heritage is holding a special programme of events at the two sites starting on 16th October. There will be a series of films, tours, talks and a special photographic exhibition at the York Cold War Bunker.