In 1937, 450,000 square feet of disused gypsum workings next to Peter Ford’s plaster works were purchased by the Air Ministry for weapons storage during the Second World War. The RAF venture into underground storage was one of disaster and tragedy. The depot at Fauld became the site of the largest explosion in the UK, when 3,670 tons of bombs stored underground exploded en masse. After the explosion there was a mushroom cloud, about 50 yards wide and upwards out of sight. Mounds of earth weighing up to a ton in weight fell to the ground. Afterwards a fine dust up to 4 inches thick fell, and it was possible to walk without making any noise. A crater, half a mile across and 100 feet deep was left behind. Firefighters from Burton, Stafford and Lichfield attended. At the depot, both R.A.F. personnel and Italian prisoners of war were employed. Both airmen and Italians were killed in the blast. The entire mine was not destroyed, but the hills housing the mine completely disappeared. Access to the remaining tunnels opened up in late 2012, the location was kept very quiet and is now sealed again. I have only just decided to post these photos as it seems several forums have released them from there ‘private’ sections. Glad we got in while still could. Enjoy.
Boeing B-29 Superfortress no. 44-61999 that crashed on Shelf Moor, Bleaklow in between Manchester and Sheffield, Derbyshire. It belonged to the 16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron, 91st Reconnaissance Group, 311th Air Division, Strategic Air Command, USAF. Crashed at about 11am on 3rd November 1948 while descending through the clouds. All 13 crew members died.
On 18th August 1939, the Air Ministry sought approval to acquire the disused Glynrhonwy Isaf slate quarry which had closed in 1930; the quarry, near Llanberis in North Wales, was deemed suitable for the storage of 18,000 tons of bombs. It consisted of a number of deep open pits, linked together by tunnels. Following the apparent success of the design employed at Harpur Hill in Derbyshire, the air ministry decided to use the same technique at Llanberis, converting the eastern pit into an underground depot, but because of the great depth of the quarry the design was adapted to produce a structure with two floors throughout. The lower level and a conventional flat reinforced concrete ceiling which also formed the floor of the upper level which had an arched roof like that at Harpur Hill. Standard and narrow gauge railway lines entered the lower level of the depot through the original quarry access tunnels, while three electric lifts transported bombs to the upper floor. The deep pits to the west of the depot were later used for burning and dumping redundant and dismantled ordnance. Overhead protection was given by forty feet of broken slate. In response to pressure from the treasury efforts were made to cheapen and accelerate the construction of Llanberis, but unfortunately the cost cutting had disastrous consequences only six months after the depot was opened.
RAF Rudloe Manor, formerly RAF Box, was a Royal Air Force station located north-east of Bath, United Kingdom between the towns ofBox and Corsham, in Wiltshire. It was one of several military installations situated in the area and covered three main sites. The station held various roles during its lifetime and the site has now been absorbed into the Basil Hill Barracks complex used by Defence Equipment and Support, Information Systems & Services.
Construction of the airfield was completed by mid 1942, with a classic three concrete runway RAF “star” arrangement. The name ‘Whitchurch Heath’ being used until 1 June 1943, when RAF Tilstockwas adopted. Between 1 September 1942 and 21 January 1946, the airfield was used by No. 81 Operational Training Unit and No. 1665 Heavy Conversion Unit Royal Air Force for the training of pilots and crews in the operation of Whitley, Stirling and Halifax heavy bombers. During the 1950s, Auster AOP.6 ‘spotter’ aircraft of No. 663 Squadron RAF used the facilities of the otherwise non-operational airfield during weekends for liaison flights with Royal Artillery units. The airfield is still being used today at weekends for skydiving. Skydivers have used the airfield for Tandem Skydiving and running Parachute Jump Courses since 1966. Today all that is left of the old RAF base is the control tower, standing alone in a field next to the A49, 1 runway used by the parachute club and a jumbled mess of overgrown buildings in the wood. These building however do still have a few suprises left behind.
Nocton Hall is a historic listed building in the village of Nocton, in Lincolnshire, England. Originally constructed for the Ellys family, it burnt down in 1834 and was rebuilt in 1841 for the first Earl of Ripon, who lived at the steward’s house in Nocton while the house was being built. The US Army’s 7th General Hospital was based at Nocton Hall during World War Two. RAF Nocton Hall was a 740 bed hospital under RAF control from the 1940s until 1984. It was used by civilians and forces personnel until 1984, when it was leased to the USAF as a United States Air Force wartime contingency hospital. During the Gulf War, over 1,300 US medical staff were sent to the Hall and many were billeted at RAF Scampton. Fortunately only 35 casualties had to be treated. In its later days 13 American personnel remained to keep the hospital serviceable. RAF Nocton Hall was handed back to the Her Majesty’s Government by the USAF on 30 September 1995. In October 2009 Nocton Hall was listed in The Victorian Society top 10 endangered buildings list in England and Wales.