Here is the dome now – painted and surrounded by picnic benches and information panels – and a car park
There is a memorial to all those who served at the airfield, and also a fascinating set of information panels about the messenger pigeons, and those awarded the PDSA Dickin medal. It is easy to forget that animals helped in the war effort! But the main point of the dome was that it was there to train RAF personnel to shoot down enemy aircraft
The dome trainer was originally conceived when Henry Christian Stevens, watched a Pathe newsreel in the late 1930s and saw Stuka planes dive bombing civilians during the Spanish civil war. He developed a projection system - the dome trainer – which provided a safe and realistic space for Anti-Aircraft gunners to hone their craft.It projected a film onto the curved surface of the domes walls with a mocked up gunnery emplacement in the centre of the room. Stevens created the first example of what we now know as Virtual Reality technology! Now you can visit the Dome and as you sit at the picnic benches outside, there are opportunities to learn more, play games, and design your own equipment all printed on the tables! This was clearly set up with an eye to school visits. I was extremely impressed by the information outside- and would happily take a school party to see the place.
Once inside, we could see the strange quilted paper that insulated the cold concrete structure, and all round the walls were more informative displays.
Videos explaining how the ‘dome trainer’ had been used in WW2 were projected on the wall [narrated by local Norfolk celeb, Stephen Fry, of course] Then there was an opportunity to try out the system and shoot down an enemy plane yourself
Bob certainly enjoyed that – there were sound effects too! Langham Dome is well worth a visit, but if you plan to go, do check out the website first – they are not open every day [and closed Saturdays] Around 43 of these domes were built in the British Isles during WW2 – but most have been demolished now – only 5 left. There’s one near Mags, in Limavady at Aghanloo [You couldn’t make these names up!!]