Report - - RAF Hospital Nocton Hall, Lincolnshire, May 2021 [PERMISSION VISIT] | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - RAF Hospital Nocton Hall, Lincolnshire, May 2021 [PERMISSION VISIT]


28DL Regular User
Regular User
1. The History
Nocton Hall is located in the small Lincolnshire village of the same name. There has been a Hall in Nocton for hundreds of years although the current ruins of the hall result from a 1841 rebuild by the first Earl of Ripon. The hall’s association with the forces first dates back to when it was used as a convalescent home for injured US Officers between 1917-1919, while under the ownership of the Norman Hodgson. He and his family moved out of the hall to the nearby Embsay house in the village. After the last American officers had left in 1919 the now-vacant Hall and its estate were sold to William H. Dennis, who had little affection for Nocton and so did not reside there.

In 1940, with the commencement of World War Two and the need for the RAF to increase its hospital facilities, the Air Ministry acquired the Hall along with 200 acres of parkland from Smith's Potato Crisps, who had purchased the hall and estate in 1936. No. 1 RAF Hospital Nocton Hall was quickly established to serve RAF personnel based at the numerous stations in the area, along with their families and local civilians. However, the RAF soon deemed Nocton insufficient for purpose and shifted operations to the nearby hospital at Rauceby and leased it out to the United States Army Seventh General Hospital in 1943, who then duly added a number of buildings to the east. At the end of the War in 1945, Nocton returned to the RAF who then selected it as their permanent general hospital for the county of Lincolnshire and it was renamed No 1 RAF Hospital Nocton Hall. This resulted in additional building works, started in 1946, in order to bring it up to the standards of a peacetime hospital. Another four wards were added, and the hospital admitted its first patient on 1st November, 1947. The nearby Hall was used to billet female RAF medical staff, while new married quarters were built nearby. The female nursing officers were accommodated in the Hall up until the 1960s. Building work and improvements continued with the addition of an ear, nose and throat department and surgical, ophthalmic and dental facilities in 1954. Then, in May 1957, a maternity wing was added, followed in 1966, by twin operating theatres, a central sterile supply department and a neuro-psychiatric centre. Finally, in July 1969, a self-contained maternity division was built. At its peak capacity, there were no fewer than 740-beds in the hospital.

Archive picture of one of the many wards:

Sadly, with the hospital into in fourth decade of operation, the decision was taken on 31st March, 1983 to close RAF Nocton Hall as an RAF facility. Mr Torrie Richardson had earlier bought Nocton Hall and developed it into a residential Home which became a significant local employer. In 1984 the hospital was leased out to the United States Air Force (USAF) who used it for use as a wartime contingency hospital. During the Gulf War, this contingency was activated, and a staggering 1,300 US medical staff were flow in, many billeted at the nearby RAF Scampton. Despite its massive capacity just 35 casualties were treated at the hospital over a two-year period. Post-Gulf War, it briefly served as an RAF forward outpatient department between 1992 and 1993. This facility was discontinued in 1994 and the hospital formally closed on 23rd June, 1995. It was then officially handed back to the UK Government by US Forces on 30th September 1995 and again stood empty once again.

The base during the final American tenure:

The fortunes of the hall fared little better. Around this time, the care home, now under the management of Torrie Richardson’s son, Gary, went into receivership and was sold to the current owners, Leda Properties of Abingdon. Leda Properties then also acquired the RAF Hospital site from the MOD. The whole site has since remained undeveloped for years, with random looting and targeted removal of items including the hall’s banisters and fireplaces and anything made of metal at the hospital. Worse was to follow, however. Around midnight on Saturday 24th October, 2004, the hall was set ablaze in a suspected arsonist attack. After 70 firefighters had brought the fire under control, the roof had collapsed, and the majority of the building was reduced to a burnt-out shell. A second fire in 2005 caused further damage to the hall. Since then, both the hall and hospital site have been left to slowly decay.

Ariel view of Nocton:

2. The Visit
This place has been something of an urbex staple for years. I did the hall back in February 2016 but didn’t get round the hospital as the fence was all secure and all the holes well-sealed up (Report HERE ). Before lockdown I noticed the appearance of a Facebook page offering tours of the former RAF hospital. With the disruptions of lockdown and the on-and-off tours due to COVID, I didn’t get round to booking on the tour. Then, finally, last month I went on the 10am tour. I know a lot of explorers baulk at the idea of paying for guided tours but though “Hey, fair play to them for doing this, let’s give it a try”. So, on a very sunny May morning we met up with our guide for the tour, Mary. The tours are maximum 6 people currently and me and my non-forum mate were on the tour with a couple making it only 4. I didn’t know if I would enjoy it but any doubts were quickly allayed. Mary was VERY knowledgeable about the site, took us all over the hospital and got the tone of the tour spot on. The tour flew by and was closer to 4 hours than the advertised 3 hours.

Mary and her husband have been associated with the site for a number of years now and are in the process of converting the water tower for their home. They also look after the site on behalf of the current owners. The place is derelict but not abandoned and the long perimeter fence repeatedly gets cut by people wanting to explore the site. This understandably annoys and frustrates Mary and her husband and there has been a very nasty incident recently. Infact while we were on the tour someone cut the fence by the entrance. So if you want to look round, pay to go on the tour. It's only £20 and it's worth every penny. More details HERE.

3. The Pictures

A few of quick pictures of the hall:

Along the road we go:

First up, it’s the former Station Headquarters building:

A nearby nissen hut:

And on to more nissen huts:

This one included some old artwork:

On to the NAAFI:

The former squash courts:

The Entertainment Hall. Apparently a very young Lenny Henry appeared here!

And finally, on to the hospital itself.

Last edited:


28DL Regular User
Regular User

This was the central sterile supply department:

The two operating theatres:

And THAT corridor:

Some OK RAF signage:

The main hospital reception desk:

And the first of many wards:

The maternity ward:

Colour coded find-your-way stripes:

Outside again:

Old oil storage tanks:

The generator house:

The morgue:

Back on the main corridor, more old signage:

One of the older original wards:

And more yet more corridors:

Serious decay in this bit:

The metal thieves had started on the roofs of these ward buildings:

The American-built gym:



28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Nice comprehensive report mate. Been many times myself. Was my first proper explore out of Norfolk in 2014. It's great that they are doing tours now, not many allow that with all the health and safety rules


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Another excellent report from you. I think your history, research and captions for pictures are great - they show the time you take to put a report together - much appreciated


28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Excellent stuff as usual. It's a great place that, different to most other hospitals.
Also, fairly friendly land owners as I accidentally found out a few years back.

Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Fantastic photos. If Mary & her husband are doing tours good on them. Every penny helps with a renovation. Its nice to hear the water tower will be a home. Did she say what the intentions are for the rest of the site?


grumpy sod
Regular User
Really nice of the owners to be offering tours, I guess it helps top up their renovation fund a bit as well.

Similar threads