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Report - RAF Condover, Shropshire - January 2015

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Background

    So there I was a few months ago, researching my family tree when I discovered that a direct ancestor of mine is listed in the 1861, 1871 and 1881 Censuses as "Farmer of 450 acres" at **** Farm in Shropshire. A quick look at an OS Map and, right next to the farm in question, I see the words that get us all excited "Airfield (Dis)". This needs investigating me thinks. The airfield turns out to be RAF Condover, in use briefly during WW2.

    An exchange of information with the current farm owners followed, and it could well be that RAF Condover, in part, is actually built on land that my ancestors farmed. I need to go to the National Library of Wales to answer that for sure for that is where the archives for this farm are kept. If it is that RAF Condover was built on my family's land then I will add it to this posting in due course. I will also write to the MOD for compensation as this land should had been my inheritance until you lot pinched it.

    History

    RAF Condover was a Royal Air Force Flying Training Command airfield and air navigation training establishment between August 1942 and June 1945, unusually for both fighter and bomber crews at different times. Located on the southern outskirts of Condover village in Shropshire, 5 miles south of Shrewsbury.

    The station formally opened on 21 August 1942 with three new concrete runways designed for both fighter and bomber aircraft. The airfield was originally planned as a Relief Landing Ground (RLG) and satellite to RAF Atcham but by the time it was completed Atcham had been handed over to the United States Air Force as a fighter base, so Condover was instead established as a satellite airfield under RAF Shawbury, also serving as an RLG for RAF Ternhill. Although it had a large layout for a satellite field it remained mostly under utilised throughout its existence during World War II.

    The airfield's three runways, two short and one long runway for heavier bomber aircraft were poorly constructed and the station closed for runway repairs on more than one occasion during the three year span of its operational career. There were ten hangars erected, a single Type T1 and 9 prefabricated blister type. Airmen and WAAF personnel were accommodated in prefabricated Quonset hutting and the officers were housed in the nearby magnificent Elizabethan manor house, Condover Hall, that had been commandeered by the War Office for the duration of the war.

    The first unit at Condover was No. 11 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit, of No. 21 Group Flying Training Command, flying Airspeed Oxfords and conducting navigation and cross-country training. At various times between 1942 and 1945 Condover was visited by Supermarine Spitfires, Hawker Hurricanes, Short Stirlings and Avro Lancasters that either diverted to Condover, made emergency landings or overnighted at the station. In January 1945 new North American Harvard trainer aircraft arrived at the airfield but were removed again by June the same year, when the airfield closed. The station was retained by the RAF on a care and maintenance basis until 1960 when it was sold by auction.

    For the past forty years most of the airfield has been used for grazing by horses from the nearby Berriewood stables and riding school, with its cross country competition course. A large number of the original buildings remain, including the old control tower, a hangar and various ruins. The main runways were torn up and used as hard-core ballast during the building of the M54 motorway and the extension to the A5 through Shrewsbury, but some of the airfield's perimeter track remains. The station's technical site on the opposite side of the road is now in use as Condover Industrial Estate, utilising many of the original buildings including the parachute packing shed.

    [​IMG]

    Offered for sale by auction in May 2007 the concrete-built control tower, which extends to 140 square metres, was described by officials from Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council as being of notable historical interest and worthy of retention under a suitable new use. An employee of the auction agents said: "The opportunity exists to explore a wide range of alternative uses for the tower, subject to planning permission, the tower is being offered together with 6.6 acres of pastureland and there are two other buildings, which are in a poorer condition but could be improved."

    The control tower was sold, but 7 years on, no obvious development work has been done at all to it. It has recently been resold.

    To the west of RAF Condover is a former POW camp built to house mainly captured members of the German Luffwaffe. The German prisoners were still housed there awaiting repatriation until early 1947. The prisoners were utilised as farm labourers in the local area and several remained in the Shrewsbury area after the war and settled in the UK. I can confirm that today there is no obvious trace remaining of this POW camp. But if anyone wants to try, the entrance was at SJ 4908 0423.

    The Visit

    Most of the remaining airfield buildings are within a stables and riding school. I did knock on the door and asked for permission to look around, but was told politely to Foxtrot Oscar. As I turned away in rejection, I thought to myself that I have driven a bloody long way to get here, so I went and looked around the stables anyways, thus turning this into a very risky explore.

    Control Tower
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    and upstairs
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    It was at this point, that I realised my Ninja Skills were lacking. Memo to self: snow leaves very obvious tracks. Must try harder next time.
    [​IMG]

    Original fuel pump
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    Fire Shed
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    Many RAF buildings were found within the stables
    [​IMG]

    The perimeter track around the airfield still in place:
    [​IMG]

    At the end of the airfield, a rifle range
    [​IMG]

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    An outbuilding found in the woods
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    Probably nothing to do with the RAF, but an interesting piece of machinery rusting away on the airfield
    [​IMG]

    Thanks for looking
     

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  2. huey

    huey 28DL Regular User
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    Nice one Bertie,love an old airfield me. Relevant history makes it a bit more interesting too. You should have looked around before asking...
     
  3. Cuuvin

    Cuuvin 28DL Colonial Member
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    Security Sheep! :eek: didn't give ya a hassle, mate? Heard they can be really Baaaaaaaaaaaaad .... :D

    (couldn't resist, :coat ...let the pelting begin ...)


    p.s. - good history , good pics, good job ! ! :thumbs
     
  4. Oxygen Thief

    Oxygen Thief Admin
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    I'd love to live in a converted control tower, don't think it will ever happen though unless Bertie finds out this one is his, claims it and sells it to me for a couple of grand.
     
  5. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    So this will be giving you wet dreams then:

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    but I think my Martello Tower house wins

    [​IMG]
     
  7. lucan

    lucan 28DL Full Member
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    nice shots , havnt got round to this 1 yet and its local too ,
    heres another nice house , or ship , hms godwit , in the same county
    [​IMG]
     
  8. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    Nice find there mate.
     
  9. hhh

    hhh 28DL Full Member
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    The range control tower at former RAF Wainfleet failed to sell at auction last year - maybe you should put an offer in :thumb http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-30035596
     
  10. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    I'm not surprised it failed to sell! £300000 seems a bit over the top. For that price I expert a built-in jacuzzi on the top floor with panoramic views
     
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