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Report - - RAF Wyton Photographic Factory. June 2021 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - RAF Wyton Photographic Factory. June 2021


RXQueen

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
Visited with @Chloe Explores

After realising we were at the wrong place we finished up the bomb stores and headed here. What a fantastic place if you love peely paint, which I do. Totally trashed with penis graffiti and racist crap and huge parts of the floor missing.

Was such an easy explore, wide open and nothing to stop people going there. No dramas, just peace and quiet to do our thing. Just glad it wasn’t raining.

History -

(taken from simoncornwell as was the most extensiv)

RAF Wyton fulfilled a unique role during the Cold War as the home of Bomber Command's strategic photographic reconnaissance squadron. Specially adapted Valiants, Victors and Canberras routinely took off from the base, flew over the Iron Curtain (or the current hot-spot) and took hundreds of aerial pictures. The planes then returned to base where the film would be developed and analysed.
They knew from the outside that they would have a problem. A mission by a single Victor alone could produce over 10,000ft (3,048m) of film so a photographic processing facility was required on an industrial scale. Therefore a dedicated "Photographic Factory" was built in a separate compound to the south of the airfield in the 1950s. Film was taken to the factory from the aircraft, rapidly developed and then sent to RAF Brampton for analysis.

The factory processed photographs for over forty years. But parts had fallen into disuse, or were pushed into storage for the airfield, by the start of the 1980s. The death knell came at the end of the 1990s: overtaken by both technological advances (with digital and satellite images becoming standard) and the end of the Cold War, the buildings became surplus and were offered for sale. The new owners did little with them, and the photographic factory has stood derelict ever since.

As RAF Wyton’s role was unique, then its requirements were unique, so it’s believed that this small anonymous building was the only example of its type built during the cold war.

The single storey structure was built in a rough "T" shape with eastern, southern and western spurs. Its sole purpose was for the rapid development of photographic film and the eastern and western wings were devoted to this function. Several clusters of small, single-man darkrooms were scattered around the building. Each had an "in-use" indicator (a red light above the door), custom lighting and taps which supplied photographic development fluids and fixers. Each cluster was unique; both with the number and size of darkrooms, suggesting that slightly different photographic development techniques were being carried out in parallel around the building.

Ventilation was obviously a concern and a large ducting system snaked around the building, with individual extraction hoods in each of the darkrooms. The ducts led back to the large plant rooms in the western spur which housed boilers (for hot water and heating), the pumps for the air extraction system and air filter beds.

A large room in the north-western corner of the building was used as a chemical store. 500 gallon tanks were submerged in the floor, where pumps were mounted which supplied the pressure to pump the chemicals around the building to the darkrooms. The tanks and pumps were housed in a sunken area of the room around which was built an elevated walkway; it felt more like a standard RAF Operations Room than a chemical store.

Many of the other rooms in the western and eastern wings also had a dedicate function concerned with the photographic process (with either darkened windows and/or custom viewing spotlights) but in many cases their use couldn’t be discerned.

The southern wing was purely administrative with offices, meeting rooms and toilets. One of the rooms looked like some form of leisure room or break room given its remaining decoration and a stand for a television set. Again, much of this work was guesswork, as very little remained to determine their use.
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Calamity Jane

i see beauty in the unloved, places & things
Regular User
Nice coverage. Lots of lovely peel. Very comprehensive report. Such a large piece of land, just left. Astounding really, and nearly every green space gets built on these days.
 

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