Dambusters’ officers mess has been granted ‘listed’ status to safeguard its heritage

Old photo of officers mess at Scampton with servicemen outside

The historic officers’ mess at RAF Scampton has been officially designated as a Grade II listed building by Historic England. The announcement comes after West Lindsey District Council applied for the building to be considered for listing, in a bid to safeguard its historical importance.

The new listed status acknowledges the importance of the building, recognising its distinct architectural and historic interest, protecting the mess for future generations.

It is further recognition of the particular historic interest of RAF Scampton, due to the base’s links with the famous 617 Squadron, which was based there and led by Guy Gibson. The squadron played a pivotal role in the war effort, particularly in Operation Chastise, popularly known as the 'Dambusters’ Raid', arguably the most famous raid from the war. 

Leader of West Lindsey District Council, Cllr Trevor Young, said the building’s new status is ‘positive’ for the site.

He said: “This recognition of the high degree of special historical interest, specifically the base’s role in some of the most famous actions of World War II, is a really positive outcome for the site, particularly as there remains an element of uncertainty around its short-term future.” 

As previously reported, The Home Office plans to use the site to accommodate 2,000 asylum seekers, for an unknown time frame. West Lindsey District Council issued a legal Stop Notice to the Home Office to stop work. However, a recent, routine site visit and intelligence supplied to the council, demonstrates the Home Office continues to breach the Stop Notice, despite assurance it is complying.

The council, along with Braintree District Council, and a resident from Weathersfield, is challenging the Home Office’s decision to use the sites for asylum accommodation, through the High Court in London, which is due to start on 31 October 2023.

Referring directly to the Home Office, which currently occupies the site, Cllr Young added:

“Custodians of listed buildings hold a privileged position, having an important role to play in protecting the nation’s heritage for future generations, and with that privilege comes a great responsibility to not only protect that asset but also ensure it has a sustainable future. It is hoped the Home Office will take these responsibilities seriously and afford the newly listed officers’ mess and the existing C-Type hangers, the protection they deserve.”

The newly acquired listed status also brings the building under special consideration within the planning system, providing extra controls on any works affecting its character for both the exterior and interior.

The report by Historic England, which accompanied the listing notification, described the officers’ mess as being a Type B mess, a standard design for medium bomber stations. It noted architecturally the quality of the design, its good proportions and being constructed from quality building materials used in the expansion era. 

West Lindsey District Council made the original listed status application back in March of this year.

Sally Grindrod-Smith, Director of Planning and Regeneration at West Lindsey District Council, confirmed the council would be contacting the Home Office to formally notify it of the newly listed status. The council will also seek assurances the building will be properly maintained and protected for the duration of its use of the site.

She said:

“Officers at West Lindsey District Council have always been alive to the special nature of RAF Scampton, particularly the high esteem in which the nation holds the site. It is for that reason the Council, on hearing of the proposed closure in 2018, has worked tirelessly during last five years to try and secure a sustainable and appropriate use for the site once the MOD had left.

“‘Restoring the Officers’ Mess to its former glory is a key element of the £300million investment plan announced earlier this year. The newly listed status of the building will provide an additional safeguard for another important building on the site, and for that we are grateful.”

The listing was published by Historic England on 18October 2023 and can be access at the link below:

Officers' Mess at former RAF Scampton, Scampton - 1486279 | Historic England

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