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Report - RAF Church Fenton Pt1, Gen Set, Dorms & Bunker April - May 15

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by The Amateur Wanderer, May 14, 2015.

  1. The Amateur Wanderer

    The Amateur Wanderer 28DL Regular User
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    Royal Air Force Station, Church Fenton April - May 2015

    Introduction:

    RAF Church Fenton, this place has been on my radar for a long time now, but the usual story of basically not having the time to look or prioritising other sites before this one has meant that my visit to the site has been delayed by a few years!

    Anyway, what can I say about this place, for me it's a real hidden gem, I've honestly not seen many RAF Stations in as good a nick as this place Kirton Lindsey came close, but Church Fenton still retains so many of her original WW2 and Cold War features. Now I'm not going to claim that this place hasn't been explored before, however I was seriously surprised upon my visit as to how much previous explorers have missed, I've only ever seen images of the stripped accommodation blocks before, as you're about to see, there's so much more... The most complete Gen Set I've ever seen, WW2 Air Raid Shelters, Anti Gas Bunkers, a Water Tower and fully furnished accommodation blocks!

    As someone who's always had an interest in the RAF the place feels like a little treasure trove, and it surprises me that more haven't attempted to have a look, that said, perhaps I'm over reacting a little been an RAF buff? I don't know, but when you look at this place compared to places like Upwood, Rissington etc, well, it appears to have just completely dropped off of everybody's radar, nothing's been pikeyed or vandalised, absolutely no graffiti and the place is totally overgrown. Anyway, it's for this reason that this is going into non public, for a few week at least, if you're interested get yourselves over for a look, before the likes of the twat in the hat decide they fancy swinging off of the water tower with a selfie stick or something... I hate to say it, but just recently more than ever, the forum seems to be attracting idiots, found this out first hand at Maltby, when I witnessed 'someone' blatantly wandering around like they owned the place and setting off countless alarms ruining the explore for me on that day. Now without trying to sound like an elitist arsehole, I understand that people want to see these places, but from now on, I don't think a week or two in NP is going to do any harm for new finds like this, if anything it'll give people with more experience a chance to see them before handing over to the general public some of who are quite frankly a liability.

    History:

    Apologies for putting you through my ranting, now let's get down to business...

    In 1935 plans to construct an airfield a Church Fenton where put forward, however these plans met huge opposition from locals, especially farmers who argued that the airfield would destroy valuable farm land. Despite protest, construction of the airfield commenced in 1936 as part of the RAF's response to the expansion of the Luftwaffe and the ever growing threat of war with Germany. On the 1st of April 1937 the station was declared open, the first Squadron to operate out of Church Fenton was No. 71 Squadron who flew Gloster Gladiator aircraft.

    During the second world war RAF Church Fenton was responsible for the defence of Leeds, Bradfield, Sheffield & the Industry situated along the Humber. The Gloster Gladiators where soon replaced by the famous Hawker Hurricane and Supermarine Spitfire Aircraft. Church Fenton was also home to the first all American, Polish and Canadian volunteer squadrons, De Haviland Mosquito fighter bombers where also stationed here in the role of night fighter training.

    After the second world war RAF Church Fenton continued in it's role as a fighter station until 1957, been equipped with Gloster Meteor and Hawker Hunter (jet) fighter aircraft. These where the last fighters to be stationed at Church Fenton, the airfield was used as a training station from 1957 onwards using Jet Provost, Tucano and Grob Tutor aircraft. During my time with 2446 Squadron ATC I was lucky enough to fly out of here in a Grob in 2008! Sadly the base was closed in 2013 by the RAF and sold off, today the airbase is once again operational under the new name of East Leeds Airport.

    That's a basic overview of the history, but I'll be adding more alongside the pictures...

    Pictures:

    Generator House:

    I'll start with the back up gen set as this is the first building that you're likely to come across, as mentioned in the introduction, I personally haven't seen one in as good a nick as this, I'm pretty sure that Mirrlees Engine would fire up with a little tlc! The Engine is a Mirrlees JS-8 and it's hooked up to a Brush Generator, pretty standard. The purpose of the set for those who are unaware is to provide the station with electricity, should for some reason power not be able to be taken from the National Grid.

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    The Accommodation Blocks:

    The next set of buildings that you'll come across are the accommodation blocks, most of these have been stripped bare, barring one, which for some reason seems to still house a lot of original furnishings. The others are fairly repetitive, but for the sake of site completion (I get a tad obsessed) I explored them all, I'm glad I did as a pair of them have furnished WW2 air shelters in the basements.

    The accommodation block's did take a lot of hacking back of vegetation to get to, I've made the all easily accessible now though if you do visit, was a little bit Amazon like first time though... Here's one of the lesser overgrown blocks...

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    Here's what you're confronted with once through the main doors, this...

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    Or this...

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    Most of the Dorm's are stripped bare like this one...

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    But then there's this block which has retained some furnishings:

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    If you do decide to explore the accommodation, take a respirator or something, I didn't but I wish I did, the stench of mould is ridiculous, I don't know what it is with RAF Station accommodation, but they smell bad enough when they're open, never mind when they've had a few years to linger...

    Beneath the accommodation is the mentioned basement shelter, I'm not gonna lie, I didn't hang around in here for long, those barrels where marked Hazardous Materials and looked pretty suspect to me, we've all heard about potential hazardous and radioactive waste been dumped on ex MOD sites, even more worrying considering how long this place has been closed for, the fact here was police tape strewn across the building didn't exactly boost my confidence. Seemed all to easy to picture a pair of RAF personnel in NBC suits dumping shit down here after closure in the 80's... It's probably just oil in those barrels, but yeah, it was a case of firing off a few shots and leaving asap!

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    Dining Area's:

    There's a couple of these on site too, this one's the one that's in best nick though, the roofs come down in the other sadly.

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    The dining hall, now void of chairs and tables...

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    Kitchen's, these are pretty vast, a fair few side rooms and most of them still with cooking and food preparation equipment intact:

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    Buffet style serving...

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    Anti Gas Shelters:

    Although the use of gas in warfare was outlawed in 1925, it makes sense to prepare for any outcome, anti gas shelters similar to these have for that reason been built into most RAF Stations. The idea is that you enter the shelter through one door discarding contaminated clothing, before entering the decontamination showers and waiting in a holding room until the raid has past.

    Here's the exterior of one of the shelters, notice the yellow shelter sign on the side of the blast wall...

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    Inside, notice the coded colour light warning above the air filtration room.

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    Decontamination showers...

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    Boiler...

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    Moving through the bunker...

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    Love finding stuff like this...

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    Heading back out into the open...

    That's all for this section, it's a big site so it's going to take 2 parts to do it justice, in part 2 we'll look at the workshops water tower and Kelfield Q Station.

    Cheers for reading, and I hope you go on to part 2, (Click Here)
    TAW
     
    #1 The Amateur Wanderer, May 14, 2015
    Last edited: May 14, 2015
    clebby, norfolkexplorer, Oort and 3 others like this.

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  2. Raz

    Raz 28DL Regular User
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    Looks like a good mooch! nice one mate :thumb
     
  3. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    Loving these mate, very nice :thumb

    Another local site i"ve avoided FSR?
     
  4. The Amateur Wanderer

    The Amateur Wanderer 28DL Regular User
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    It is a good wander mate, plenty to see!

    I think everyone's avoided it mate, only ever seen 2 reports from here, and although they where good, they barely scratched the surface!
     
  5. jST

    jST LLS.
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    Nice one pal, I didn't get a chance to go along here when the others went. Has piqued my interest once again.
     
  6. WhoDaresWins

    WhoDaresWins Let's do this
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    Cracking work. Looks like a nice mix of things to see.
     
  7. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Bunker, check. Air raid shelter, check. Big bits of machinery, check. Lots of peely paint, check.

    Full of win!! great report thanks for sharing :thumb
     
  8. Will Knot

    Will Knot 28DL Regular User
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    Awesome work mate....like that a lot.....great pics :thumb
     
  9. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    After visiting here for @ 6 hours i can only agree it"s vast! I"ve done loads and i"ve only seen two of the buildings in your reports lol

    And i will add i"ve never got lost so many times in my life. TBH Bear Grylls would struggle in here, how can you miss complete buildings 20 ft apart :coat

    Fucking Nettles :eek:
     
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