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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
    15745245943_e3ae458a87_b.jpg

    Gate guard plinth sadly lacking a certain something today..
    16364602152_03125f387e_b.jpg

    That's better, Gloster Meteor at the front entrance
    16346174046_abd9cf27e1_b.jpg

    The old Guardroom, now reception and security hut
    16177773488_d09739312e_b.jpg

    The old standby set house- a generator, one of several in case of power disruption
    16179013809_100f0f0e05_b.jpg

    Huge hangers (Oohhh matron,stop it!) everywhere
    15742824724_4bd8a5dc1c_b.jpg

    Period scene from inside the hanger
    16177837230_af86185e3e_o.jpg

    Imposing water tower is listed, as are two of the hangers
    16339267546_ff5e5fa7fb_b.jpg

    Yellow fire hydrant denotes American presence
    16179444237_f6800fde00_b.jpg

    Stores Room
    16364457942_a89b1721f1_b.jpg

    Second water tower
    15742779294_c6e181e9a3_b.jpg

    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.
    16179060519_27c9440282_b.jpg

    Gas Decontamination Centre
    15742935234_a6b62c3158_b.jpg

    Dog pound
    16179252839_e24e5c13fa_b.jpg

    Handcraft hut
    16179524467_30b7e9d1df_b.jpg

    Notice found inside..written by Lt Col Easterley. Now retired after rising to rank of Major, he lives in Canada.
    15743009014_ef1f55dccb_b.jpg

    Staff quarters
    16177862248_a6b81ce33b_b.jpg

    and inside..
    16179607737_ed748e2d7d_b.jpg

    16364396722_fedf88c07e_b.jpg

    15745292923_9f05548bae_b.jpg

    16363615441_0c53cfca00_b.jpg

    16179245719_afa63bdcac_b.jpg

    16179190799_5cf51ffefb_b.jpg

    16179551917_4472d7f511_b.jpg

    No info, just an awesome pic taken at Kemble
    16363478711_87d83ca366_b.jpg

    Late model Lancaster fresh from winter servicing
    16365210885_cd95050cc5_b.jpg

    Pilot officer Charles Alec Bird
    16178993029_b6c5fdc4be_b.jpg

    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..

    16372318302_e2d31c7a34_c.jpg
     
  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 Must Flow.
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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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