Air cadets in Leeds have had an intriguing glimpse into the past – thanks to the RFCA’s £190,000 revamp of 168 (City of Leeds) Squadron in Beeston.
That’s because contractors stripping out old plaster board from the walls of the pre-fab building came across two newspapers hidden among its supporting struts.
The newspapers – one a copy of the Daily Mirror and the other a copy of the Yorkshire Evening News – are both dated 18 March 1959 and were most likely sealed into the walls when the building was originally constructed.
Second redevelopment at site
“They are quite a find,” said squadron leader Steve Dunn who is wing section commander for the area that includes 168 Squadron, pictured left.
“And they certainly take us back to an era that existed before even I was born.”
The building being revamped is one of two prefab huts which make up the squadron’s centre in Middleton Grove. While the first hut was refurbished last year, work began on the second one last month.
Transforming cadet experience
“The redevelopment of the first hut made such a difference to the squadron and really transformed the experience of the cadets,” said RFCA surveyor Ian Thompson, pictured right, who is managing the project.
“Whereas before, it was cluttered and down at heel, it now offers fantastic facilities such as an indoor shooting range, classroom and drill space and valuable storage. It’s created new opportunities for the cadets and those opportunities will only increase with the redevelopment of this second hut.”
Benefits to cadets
The Air Training Corps is paying for this latest refurbishment which will provide additional bathroom facilities as well as further classroom and storage space as well modern insulation.
“We know from the newspapers that it’s been a long time since the walls of the huts have been touched,” said Ian.
“So I think the cadets will see a world of difference when they return here once work is completed.”
While many think of the 1950s as an era of innocence, the copy of the Daily Mirror from the time highlights similar social concerns as those that exist in many areas today –knife crime among teenagers, young people possessing dangerous weapons.
Ian says the RFCA plans to return the newspapers to their former hiding place when plaster board is reinstated. That leaves the possibility that they could be re-found by future contractors in another 60 years time.
- The RFCA signed off on the completion of two major developments within its estate last month – the reflooring and redecoration of Barnsley Cadet Centre and an £120,000 re-roofing project at Wakefield Cadet Centre.