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Report - - RAF Cranage - Byley, Cheshire - August 2021 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - RAF Cranage - Byley, Cheshire - August 2021


MK83

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
This was a small WW2 explore as we had a free morning and it's not to far from us. I'm fascinated by all thing WW2 so while there wasn't a massive amount to see what was left was interesting.

History - The site at Cranage was chosen for use as a training station and aircraft maintenance unit in August 1939. Originally just a grass airfield, three runways were later built from American metal plank. The airfield unusually had eight blister hangars for maintenance use.
The first flying unit was No.2 School of Air Navigation RAF which was formed on 21 October 1940. It operated the twin-engined Avro Anson for training navigators. In 1942 the unit was renamed the Central Navigation School and the strength was increased to 58 Ansons, they were joined two years later by a number of Vickers Wellingtons in the same role.

As well as the training role, the airfield also housed an operational squadron from December 1940 with the formation of 96 Squadron which was equipped with Hawker Hurricanes. This unit operated in the night air-defence role, mainly in the protection of the industrial and port areas of Liverpool. 96 Squadron was command by Edward crew, prior to his role commanding the squadron he shot down 15 enemy aircraft and was one of the top-scoring aces against the V-1 flying bomb.

A Vickers-Armstrong shadow factory assembling Wellingtons, was situated at Byley but close to the airfield. The completed aircraft would be towed from the factory to the airfield for their first flight and onward delivery. In July 1942 1531 Flight was formed as a Beam Approach Training Flight using the Airspeed Oxford Aircrew were taught the techniques of the-then new airfield approach aid. A US Army Air Force liaison flight, operating Sentinels, also worked from the site in 1944.

For a small airfield, without hard surface runways, Cranage was home to eighteen different types of aircraft.

Explore - This place is a chilled out explore. As with many of these sites it's spread across a large area of fields and farms. The only exception to this is the battle HQ and light machine gun post which is in the middle of a fenced compound for exercising dogs run by a company called Safe and Hound. It caters to dog's who have difficulty around people or other dogs so if anyone decides to have a look it's probably best to make sure the field isn't in use. The battle HQ is interesting, it is in relatively good condition and is a scheduled monument along with the other defensive positions on the site.

Aerial view of the base prior to demolition:

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As it is now on google maps with the stuff we found marked:

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Battle HQ:

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Light machine gun and anti-aircraft post:

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Underground ammunition store for machine gun post:

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One of the remaining taxi-ways, running to what was runway 4:

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Pillboxes:

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I'm unsure what this building is. From the listing on scheduled monuments i think it's some kind of sleeping quarters:

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Thanks for looking.
 
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tigger

mog
Regular User
BHQ - plenty left but the one at Cranage is listed as part of the group of defence structures left around the former airfield (one pillbox has been lost since the listing). The damage to the exterior of the BHQ is due to the hooligans from the Byley Field Gun Club who used to have some of their targets in front of it. Both the BHQ and the light machine gun emplacement would have been earth-covered during the war.

Your final building, alongside the M6 is as you surmised a sleeping shelter.

The gas site resulted in the loss of quite a few of the bits and pieces relatively recently

If you go over to the Vickers site, where the Belman hangars are now warehousing, there are some internal gun positions.

There was for a while a small museum and collection of artifacts at the three greyhounds but with changes of ownership I imagine the contents were relocated.
 

MK83

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
BHQ - plenty left but the one at Cranage is listed as part of the group of defence structures left around the former airfield (one pillbox has been lost since the listing). The damage to the exterior of the BHQ is due to the hooligans from the Byley Field Gun Club who used to have some of their targets in front of it. Both the BHQ and the light machine gun emplacement would have been earth-covered during the war.

Your final building, alongside the M6 is as you surmised a sleeping shelter.

The gas site resulted in the loss of quite a few of the bits and pieces relatively recently

If you go over to the Vickers site, where the Belman hangars are now warehousing, there are some internal gun positions.

There was for a while a small museum and collection of artifacts at the three greyhounds but with changes of ownership I imagine the contents were relocated.
Thanks for the info. You seem to have been to every military site we find in the north west! I always end up editing my post to correct it after your comments! :D
 

MK83

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
BHQ - plenty left but the one at Cranage is listed as part of the group of defence structures left around the former airfield (one pillbox has been lost since the listing). The damage to the exterior of the BHQ is due to the hooligans from the Byley Field Gun Club who used to have some of their targets in front of it. Both the BHQ and the light machine gun emplacement would have been earth-covered during the war.

Your final building, alongside the M6 is as you surmised a sleeping shelter.

The gas site resulted in the loss of quite a few of the bits and pieces relatively recently

If you go over to the Vickers site, where the Belman hangars are now warehousing, there are some internal gun positions.

There was for a while a small museum and collection of artifacts at the three greyhounds but with changes of ownership I imagine the contents were relocated.
We only found out about the Vickers site after the explore. I assume it was on the site of this industrial estate and the farm shop?

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HughieD

28DL Regular User
Regular User
These types of place often get overlooked as many don't seem them as being that special, but I love 'em. Tip-top report mate.
 

MK83

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
These types of place often get overlooked as many don't seem them as being that special, but I love 'em. Tip-top report mate.
Thanks. I agree 100%, these little relatively unknown sites can be loaded with interesting history. They deserve a look as well as the big epic locations.
 

Mikeymutt

28DL Regular User
Regular User
Really nice that one mate with some really nice remains left over. You are like me on the world war two stuff. Nice to see you regularly posting different stuff. I always enjoy seeing them.
 

tigger

mog
Regular User
We only found out about the Vickers site after the explore. I assume it was on the site of this industrial estate and the farm shop?
Assembly was where Firmin-Coates is on your screengrabs and the finishing shed (also still there) at Byley Warehousing rather than at Lowes Farm.
The trackway over the fields used to be fairly obvious (you can see it on the 1945 aerial photo you used) but is almost invisible on your last screengrab

Just for fun...you mentioned PSP...here's a piece pulled out of the grass at Cranage

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MK83

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Assembly was where Firmin-Coates is on your screengrabs and the finishing shed (also still there) at Byley Warehousing rather than at Lowes Farm.
Thanks. We'll be heading back to that area in the next couple weeks to have a nosey at another ww2 site so will have look while were there.
 

MK83

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Really nice that one mate with some really nice remains left over. You are like me on the world war two stuff. Nice to see you regularly posting different stuff. I always enjoy seeing them.
Cheers mate. I do love ww2 explores, but anything with a decent history behind it and cool stuff to look at will do!
 

MK83

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Assembly was where Firmin-Coates is on your screengrabs and the finishing shed (also still there) at Byley Warehousing rather than at Lowes Farm.
The trackway over the fields used to be fairly obvious (you can see it on the 1945 aerial photo you used) but is almost invisible on your last screengrab

Just for fun...you mentioned PSP...here's a piece pulled out of the grass at Cranage

View attachment 918930
The piece of marston Mat is cool. Wonder if it was put down on a muddy day in the 40's and it's been there ever since?
 

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Nice report. You found quite a bit, despite a lot being destroyed. This is the kind of thing people walk past, without a thought of its history. Well done.
 

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