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Report - RAF Little Rissington, Gloucestershire - 17/10/2009

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by clebby, Oct 17, 2009.

  1. clebby

    clebby ( . Y . )
    Regular User

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    This is yet another unseen yet excellent explore in Gloucestershire. Just goes to show that a bit of research reveals a lot. Newbies, don't ask "where's a site near me", get searching! :rolleyes:

    RAF Little Rissington was built in 1938 during the build up to WW2, when the Air Ministry were constructing hundreds of airfields across the country. It is located a couple of miles east of Bourton on the Water. However, in the earlier days it comprised just the domestic site and a grass airstrip. It was not until 1942 that 3 asphalt runways were laid, and the main runway was extended further in 1944.

    During WW2 RAF Little Rissington, known affectionately as Little Rissi' by all who worked there, accomodated the No. 6 Service Flying Training School and the No. 8 Maintenance Unit. Literally hundreds of aircraft were parked in its dispersal areas in its day. In spring 1946 the Central Flying School moved to Little Rissington, as well as the Red Pelicans and, more famously, the Red Arrows. The airfield was expanded further during this period - a new control tower and fire station were built. The CFS left in 1976, moving to RAF Valley, and in 1977 the army and the Royal Irish Rangers, who renamed the base "Imjim Baracks", moved in.

    When the United States Air Force arrived in Europe, they used Little Rissington as a base and it became known as USAF RAF Little Rissington. It became the largest military contingency hospital in Europe during this time. The airfield was also cleared to store C-130 Hercules and C5 Galaxies, and during the Gulf War the base was held on the highest readiness state it had been at for several decades as it prepared for casualties. The USAF left in 1993 and the base was returned to the RAF. Unfortunately the station was identified as surplus to requirements by the Conservative Government of the day, and it closed in 1994. However, the MoD retained the runways and it is still in use today, occupied by the 637 Volunteer Gliding Squadron, the Home Office Experimental Still-Air Fire Test Facility, and an aviation maintenance company, Devonair.

    The married-quarters and main technical site were sold in 1996 to a developer, and much of the closed station was built on, becoming the village of Upper Rissington. The four massive Type-C hangars by the airfield are in use as a business park, but some look disused, so definitely one for the future...

    The building Paskey, ImmortalOwl and I explored was the former officers mess, closed with the station in 1994 and left derelict ever since. When open, it could accomodate and cater for 108 officers. Outside, it is an imposing but very fine looking building. Unfortunately, every window has been smashed, yet it still stands proud.

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    It is perfectly symmetrical - inside as well as outside.

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    Access was by no means easy - in fact the worst I have experienced yet - but it was worth it. Behind the arched entrance was a fine wood panneled foyer with an elegant fan light above the door.

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    Unfortunately, the site has only been secured properly recently. This means that it had been left open since 1994, and even in its isolated location it has been badly vandalised in places. However, they did try to secure it (very poorly) a couple of years back. Some genius left a half full tin of anti climb paint in a poorly secured building. Surprise surprise, when people got in, they found a tin of anti-climb paint waiting for them and slapped it all over the wood panneling.

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    The rooms downstairs at the front were the highest and were very impressive, with gorgeous ceilings. They were used for meetings, social activities and eating.

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    The windows were boarded yet light still flooded in and they were surprisingly bright.

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    There were several central staircases like this - they were simple but effective...

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    There were some large kitchens - sadly stripped - but still atmospheric and photogenic.

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    Peeling paint definitely made this place. It was everywhere. Yay!

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    Upstairs was the residential part of the complex. There was a long, spinal corridor...

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    They were all mirrors of each other - but each room seemed to have a different character.

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    There was definitely some dirty corridor porn in this place...

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    The views from the top floor were great - overlooking fields and across to the rest of the base.

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    These squash courts must be a hangover of the bases days in the hands of the USAF. "Project Warrior" hardly sounds like a British invention.

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    The boiler house was another highlight, containing 3 large boilers and a web of criss-crossing pipes...

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    It had clearly been modernised since it was built, but the brickwork on the wall was still glazed and this switchgear looked pretty ancient.

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    Considering this boiler house has been out of use since 1994, the boilers must come from the early 80's. They are in great condition and look very modern, 2 still complete with their heating elements.

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    There are plans to refurbish the building, so hopefully the new security measures will stop it deteriorating further.

    Thanks for looking :)​
     
    #1 clebby, Oct 17, 2009
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009

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  2. clebby

    clebby ( . Y . )
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    Thanks for the kind words guys :)

    Here's some old photos for those who are interested...

    The air base from above, the 4 type C hangars clearly visible...

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    And on the runways...

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    The 125 (Cheltenham) Air Training Corps outside the officers mess in 1953...

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    The man on the right is Air Commodore Mick Swiney, inside the officers mess, presumably in the entrance hall. This photo was taken in the 1950s.

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    There was a recreation hall in the officers mess, but it was just that; a mess. The windows had been bricked up internally, there was a hideous suspended ceiling complete with disco balls and any original features had been removed. It was so revolting I don't think it merits a photo in its current state, but here's one from when it was in use.

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    This is radio operations room within the mess, on the ground floor, in 1989.

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    When the CFS was based at Little Rissington, the Queen recieved the Cheltenham Sword on their behalf.

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    And the Queen Mother has visited as well...

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