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Report - Kemble Aerodrome, Wiltshire 2015

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by huey, Jan 26, 2015.

  1. huey

    huey 28DL Regular User
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    Explored solo a few months ago, its taken a while but here it is...Kemble Aerodrome,now Cotswold Airport and Business park in Kemble,near Cirencester was part of the RAF's third phase of expansion-they already had frontline aerodromes and needed safer,out of bomber range airfields. These new airfields were for MU (maintenance units) and pilot training.
    Today,many of the dozens of original buildings have gone but there is still a sympathetic nod to its rich past,which is only right.


    HISTORY

    Built in 1936 for 5MU Kemble was always extremely busy, within two years over 600 aircraft were here. By 1940 44 group MU joined in, responsible for training crew and preparing aircraft for the long, hazardous flights. In 1941 alone they sorted 2,300 airplanes, of different types - that's 192 per month!
    In 1942 the main hard runway was added, a year later it was extended and taxiways added to connect up all the dispersals - some are two miles away.
    In 1944 the USAAF moved in, using the base to fly re-supply missions. They, not unusually, spent hundreds of thousands of pounds then promptly moved out. As the war ended the place was transformed immediately into a huge disposal site. Disbanded squadrons left hundreds of planes, many with hardly any flying hours on them, to be scrapped, dismantled or sold. The fighters and bombers were all dismantled.
    As the Cold War threat passed it became the RAF's central flying school and home to the Red Arrows for the next 16 years. The reputation for excellent servicing and repainting continued with 'our Liz' having the royal plane painted here.
    By 1993 the MOD sold many of the buildings off to release funds, this is when local businessman Ronan Harvey stepped in, invested, renamed and started yet another chapter in the old girls life.
    Interesting pub fact for you- did you know that loads of TV programmes have been filmed here- Top Gear, Casualty, Wheeler Dealers etc ? Or that its an FIA Formula One approved test site (albeit only for straight line acceleration tests etc ) used for several days a year? Well did you? Thought not.

    TODAY

    Its a big old site, lovely old pic shows the aircraft lined up
    [​IMG]

    Gate guard plinth sadly lacking a certain something today..
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    That's better, Gloster Meteor at the front entrance
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    The old Guardroom, now reception and security hut
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    The old standby set house- a generator, one of several in case of power disruption
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    Huge hangers (Oohhh matron,stop it!) everywhere
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    Period scene from inside the hanger
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    Imposing water tower is listed, as are two of the hangers
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    Yellow fire hydrant denotes American presence
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    Stores Room
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    Second water tower
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    To give an impression of scale here are some of the airfields defences- in its heyday there were 57 buildings, 5 Chevron shaped shelters, 2 emergency water supplies, 2 spoil heaps, 5 blast shelters, 1 trackway, 5 gunposts, 7 seagull trenchs, 4 pillboxes, an ROC post, a battle HQ and an AA gun emplacement. Here is one of the 29 Stanton shelters.
    [​IMG]

    Gas Decontamination Centre
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    Dog pound
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    Handcraft hut
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    Notice found inside..written by Lt Col Easterley. Now retired after rising to rank of Major, he lives in Canada.
    [​IMG]

    Staff quarters
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    and inside..
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    No info, just an awesome pic taken at Kemble
    [​IMG]

    Late model Lancaster fresh from winter servicing
    [​IMG]

    Pilot officer Charles Alec Bird
    [​IMG]

    On the 25th July 1940 Charles Bird took off, his plane struggling to start from cold, to intercept enemy planes. Eyewitness accounts say how he shot down enemy aircraft despite his airplane having problems, then apparently either having gun problems or running out of ammunition he rammed a German Ju88 bomber, killing himself and all but one of their crew.
    It seems he had a premonition of his death -the day before when shopping with his wife in Cheltenham he brought a book containing a poem called 'Wings.' It reads;
    ' My son has wings, for as the plane dived deep,
    His spirit, free within the realms of space,
    On new-found wings flew with a swifter sweep,
    fearless and laughing, to the throne of Grace.'
    He had crossed out 'My Son' and written 'He' asking his wife to have this carved on his gravestone. Its still on his gravestone today at St John the Baptist's church.

    A site so full of history like this without recognition is like a labrador with an absent master. Surely something should be erected to show some appreciation of all those who worked here? A lovely old school place and feel here too.
    That is all, thanks for looking.
     
    rustandoil likes this.

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  2. drhowser

    drhowser Bespectacled & irrelevant
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    I had a good look round here a few years back..

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Lenston

    Lenston Bajo Tierra
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    Went past this not so long back, didn't fancy the disused planes the other side of the runway?
     
  4. WhoDaresWins

    WhoDaresWins Let's do this
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    I was expecting the disused airliners as well. Still, I love these old RAF buildings. Thanks for sharing!
     
  5. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Was gonna ask if you managed to have a gander at the planes, still, great report and history mate :thumb
     
  6. A man called Martyn

    A man called Martyn cultural theorist
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    No pics from Air Salvage international?
    I've not being for a few years, but Kemble is normally a boneyard of airliners being parted out.
     
  7. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    That first water tower looks tempting. Is it climbable in any way?
     
  8. huey

    huey 28DL Regular User
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    Air Salvage is on live side of airport, compulsory £2500 fine when caught. Wasn't going to risk it for a few pics of a stripped out aircraft...
    Yo Bertie,how goes it? Large tower was locked,old tower easy but prob not high enough for you...think I might know a suitable water tower for you though...
     
  9. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    That's no racing car, it's french for a start :p:
     
  10. huey

    huey 28DL Regular User
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    Probably only managed one lap...
     
  11. WildBoyz

    WildBoyz Is this the future?
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    Enjoyed reading through that :thumb I like all the old bits and bobs you found along the way.
     
  12. Mr Sam

    Mr Sam 28DL Regular User
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    I too was expecting some of the boneyard never realised there was and RAF remnants there!
     
  13. Miss Mayhem

    Miss Mayhem 28DL Regular User
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    Very nice, looks interesting :thumb
     
  14. glub

    glub 28DL Full Member
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    Just a update on this went there today. Couldn't find any accessible buildings or many buildings that looked abandoned.
    Was a few companies operating from hangers, and not that much to see anymore.
    N
     
  15. huey

    huey 28DL Regular User
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    Hey glub, did you go to the correct part? Sounds daft but there's two distinct parts and the one is is still very much active with units rented out, cafe etc. the older part is next door.
     
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