Project to explore Cold War era when Khrushchev visited Norfolk

Mr Bulganin and Mr Kruschev at RAF Marham, 23 April 1956. Photo: Archant Library

Mr Bulganin and Mr Kruschev at RAF Marham, 23 April 1956. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

From Thor missiles armed and ready at RAF Feltwell and USSR leader Nikita Khrushchev being shown around RAF Marham, Norfolk played a crucial role during the Cold War.

Mr Bulganin and Mr Kruschev on the saluting base at RAF Marham, 23 April 1956. Photo: Archant Librar

Mr Bulganin and Mr Kruschev on the saluting base at RAF Marham, 23 April 1956. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

Under constant threat of nuclear annihilation following the end of the Second World War, the region was centre stage for the secretive fight against the communist bloc.

Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh at RAF Marham, 23 July 1956. Photo: Archant Library

Queen Elizabeth and Duke of Edinburgh at RAF Marham, 23 July 1956. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

Central to the deterrent tactics of the Cold War, Norfolk saw secret nuclear bunkers and nuclear weapon bases spring up around the county.

The Queen at RAF Marham in 1956. Photo: Archant Library

The Queen at RAF Marham in 1956. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: EDP Library

US Airbases such as RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall contributed to the defence of the country, alongside British bases including RAF Marham, RAF Feltwell and RAF Barnham.

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at RAF Marham, 23 July 1956. Photo: Archant Library

Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh at RAF Marham, 23 July 1956. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

Now, a new project exploring the history of the Cold War and its links with the Brecks is due to begin after receiving nearly £10,000 in National Lottery funding.

North Pickenham missile march on 6 December 1958 - banner states "Refuse work on nuclear weapons". P

North Pickenham missile march on 6 December 1958 - banner states "Refuse work on nuclear weapons". Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library


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During the Cold War era, Queen Elizabeth and Nikita Khrushchev visited RAF Marham in 1956, with the construction of missile sites in Feltwell and around the area leading to protest marches in places such as North Pickenham.

The Thor missile at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960. Photo: Archant Library

The Thor missile at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

On the day of the visit, the EDP printed its leader column in Russian in the form of an open letter to the two leaders.

The Thor missile at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960 . Photo: Archant Library

The Thor missile at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960 . Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

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The new project, called The Cold War in the Brecks, is run by The Breckland Society and will see activities including archival research, site visits and oral history interviews take place.

The Thor missiles at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960. Photo: Archant Library

The Thor missiles at RAF Feltwell, 10 February 1960. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

The Breckland Society's project manager, Ken Delve, said: 'The Brecks area and its immediate surroundings included a significant number of RAF and American air bases, and as such was very much central to the deterrent nature of the Cold War.

B.52 bombers at RAF Marham, 25 June 1980. Photo: Archant Library

B.52 bombers at RAF Marham, 25 June 1980. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

'Whilst such bases were vital, they had to be protected, as did the general population, and of course there were segments of society that protested the entire concept.

B.52 bombers at RAF Marham, 25 June 1980. Photo: Archant Library

B.52 bombers at RAF Marham, 25 June 1980. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

'The Cold War in The Brecks project will be looking at all aspects of this critical period in European history, in which The Brecks played a central role.'

The last Valiant is pulled off its stand, on 25 March 1982, at RAF Marham where it has stood on disp

The last Valiant is pulled off its stand, on 25 March 1982, at RAF Marham where it has stood on display since 1964. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant

Two meetings for those interested in the project will take place in March, with one at Barnham Camp on Saturday, March 23 at 10.30am and another at RAF Marham Aviation Heritage Centre on Saturday, March 30 from midday.

RAF Marham, 11 March 1985. Photo: Archant Library

RAF Marham, 11 March 1985. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

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