14-05-16-2142FM01D Hemswell Antiques Centres.jpg
Former airman Bill Collard makes a speech at the Guardroom expansion of Hemswell Antiques Centres, now using the site where he served when it was used as an RAF airfield.

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Bill, from Brentwood, was one of the 33 ex-airmen present, with the oldest attendee being 92, who had served at the base at Hemswell Cliff, near Lincoln, during the 1940s, '50s and 60s.

In his speech, which he is pictured making, he reminisced, saying: "Our RAF Hemswell was the home and workplace for some 800 or so airmen and women who supported, serviced and flew three squadrons of heavy bombers.

"These old buildings reverberated day and night to the sound of Merlin engines, four at a time, hauling Lincoln bombers into the air. It is quieter now, but does not look all that different, because the group of entrepreneurs who took over when the RAF moved out in 1967 - one of whom was Rex Miller, Robert's* father - decided to improve and adapt what they had rather than demolish and start again."

RAF Hemswell was also home in 1957 to a specialist Canberra bomber squadron which monitored the upper atmosphere for evidence of nuclear tests by other countries.

The Guardroom houses some 80 new dealers from the UK, Ireland, Spain and France, half of them fresh to Hemswell.

 * Robert Miller is MD of Hemswell Antiques Centres.