After project RAF Coltishall and visiting Krampnitz in Germany, I had a bit of a taste for more military exploration so took a trip to RAF West Raynham with theflyinghaggis. We left around 4am and took a drive, everything was going well until we hit the shit roads, trying to swig Monster Ripper whilst coming to 90 degree left hand bends is not cool. We arrived and found a place to park, with hindsight we could have tried a bit better at being inconspicuous however thats the way it goes.
RAF West Raynham was a Royal Air Force station located 2 miles (3.2 km) west of the village of West Raynham in Norfolk, England. It opened in the 1930s and closed in 1994. During the Second World War, RAF Bomber Command operations from RAF West Raynham claimed 86 aircraft. The site was sold by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2006. Tamarix Investments, which now owns the site, plans to renovate the 170 houses at RAF West Raynham and build more homes and a hotel.
We made the walk in the dark up through the main entrance, it was pitch black so our night vision adjusted and we were able to make out some buildings – all locked. We wanted to see two parts of the site, the control tower and the BAC Rapier anti-aircraft missile simulator.
We carried on walking, saw the control tower and headed towards it – scoping it out, locked down – damn. We circled, then found a way into a building, unlucky for us that the building was not attached. Even if we could have climbed, the tower was locked down significantly – we moved on to find the other key part of the trip.
Scanning the horizon we saw the simulator, we moved over to it.
The sun was just creeping up when we setup for a shot, the airfield was silent we packed our gear and headed into the simulator. Once inside, memories of the NSA radar station in Germany came flooding back, RomanyWG and myself inside the radar dome at the dizzying heights playing with the acoustics. We setup and done some light painting inside…
Today was also for equipment testing. I wanted to test the Nikon 14mm f/2.8 on the Nikon D700 – but today would be single shot work for two reasons, 1 we had to be light footed due to security, 2 I wanted to test raw work with the equipment.
Back out towards the hangers, all hangers are locked up so we moved on and found the sports and social club, through the open window and into the darkness
Inside, we grabbed some food and started to check it out. We walked into the main social area, saw the bar and the decals drawn on the walls by the many airmen celebrating their regiments. Lay out was typical defence, reminds me of the various NAAFI’s I’ve been in around the country. We took a few minutes to think about things, the many airmen. Squadrons based here are the 101, 114, No. 18, 180, 342. Later taken over by the 100 group housing squadrons 141 and 239. Later years saw many training teams – the floor that we were standing on has seen all this history, we are privileged
In this building there was also an underground section, I guess this was a gym or something similar.
We then moved out, into the boilerhouse and saw the industrial side of the plant – 3 large boilers powered a significant proportion of the site
Everything was intact in this place – amazing to see an testament to the security that are always on site
From the boilerhouse, we mooched for a while, playing cat and mouse with the security van that was constantly driving about. We saw the electrical sub station, no luck on getting inside it but part of me, seeing the bare terminals inside did not want to. We saw lots of other buildings, many now in use as work shops, holding areas for cars, small businesses etc. We also saw temporary power supplies running from the substation – many things are still live.
Hangers – there are 4 main hangers, these things are huge and cool. We made plans to climb to the top of them, the view from there would have been amazing. We went inside the rubber doors….
We stopped for some food – about 5 minutes in, we heard a truck. Peering through the doors, a car came very slowly around the front, eyeballing the entire hanger. We waited, the car went around corner and stopped, engine still running… we waited. Next thing, we heard someone opening the hanger. The security truck came around and stopped. We could see inside in hanger, 2 Polish dudes were in there… we waited, then decided to move and see what happened.
We wanted to go and shoot the control tower so made our way across the hangers and waited in the bushes. More cars, a van more people – WTF, this place had suddenly come to life
We could not pass so had to accept that we would not make the tower today. So we move back into the complex, grabbing some shots on the way.
We had to duck back inside a hanger when security went past again, this time we made our way upstairs then into the hanger
Back into the complex and we grabbed some more shots before the inevitable happened, we got busted by security – they were ok, as were we. We gave no problems and they were fine but said we had to leave. So on the way out, we grabbed some more shots
Was a good day, realised that there was another part of the site that housed the chapel, sports hall, mess and living quarters… that will be saved for another day
Hope you enjoy