PDA

View Full Version : Caerwent



canberra
04-02-2009, 18:48
Seeing a post on Welford I thought Id ask about this place. What exactly did the RAF and the USAF use it for? And when did it close?

Carnaby
04-02-2009, 20:00
This base located here (http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCP&cp=51.619242~-2.759714&style=h&lvl=15&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&phx=0&phy=0&phscl=1&encType=1) is well described in Wikipedia.
AFAIK it became 'RAF Caerwent', purely so that the USAF could use it as an urgently needed weapons storage site following their expulsion from France.
I don't believe the RAF ever used the base, which closed as a weapons store in 1993. It's a fascinating site where the original spark proof floors in the cordite areas had to be laid by English workers. The Welsh were not allowed to perform this task. Still extant are the buildings which housed tanks of boiling sulphuric acid - evidently the workers here had a very high rate of teeth decay. :shock:

Graham

canberra
04-02-2009, 20:08
All the American bases in the UK are/were RAF bases, they all fly the RAF ensign at the gate as well as old glory.

kebecker
04-02-2009, 20:26
I may be wrong but for all US Airforce bases, wasnt the station commander on paper at least an RAF Squadron Leader? who was nominally in charge.

Carnaby
04-02-2009, 21:57
I was interested in Caerwent in the 1970s and 80s for a different reason. A major new and unique cave system had been discovered in the area (Otter Hole (http://www.ukcaves.co.uk/cave-otter)) and members of the Gloucester Speleological Society, and the Royal Forest of Dean Caving Club were very active in this area using dyes to determine just where the surface water went, having disappeared into the limestone. It was believed that there was 'something - natural or otherwise' under the surface at Caerwent, but access was totally out of the question.

Around this time a new Forest of Dean tourist guide had been produced and was on sale in one of the local bookshops. One day, evidently, a 'Man from the Ministry' walked into the said bookshop and requisitioned all copies of the book. A receipt was given. After he'd gone the shopowner remembered that there was still a copy in the window. After a careful search through the book the only apparent item of interest was an aerial photograph which showed a small portion of the military site in one corner. Wonder how much that book is / was worth?

Graham

PETERTHEEATER
05-02-2009, 07:27
Caerwent was built as a RNPF (Royal Navy Propellant Factory) in the late '30s

Carnaby
05-02-2009, 13:09
Caerwent was built as a RNPF (Royal Navy Propellant Factory) in the late '30s
Yes, the site needed lots of water which came from the Severn Tunnel. Two factories were constructed for security - one is a mirror image of the other. The Navy didn't trust anyone else to manufacture cordite propellant for their heavy warships. Basically if you load a gun with 'x' bags of cordite and the shell lands exactly 15 miles away, then under the same conditions the next shell must land in the same spot. If it lands 'close' then you are wasting your time. I remember something about the Navy estimated that 5% of shells would hit their long range target, which isn't bad considering the conditions and technology at the time. A few salvos and you've got it.

Graham

canberra
07-02-2009, 15:08
This may sound a daft question, but was Caerwent in England or Wales.

Carnaby
09-02-2009, 18:36
This may sound a daft question, but was Caerwent in England or Wales.
With a name like that it's got to be Welsh, and indeed is in Gwent, previously Monmouthshire.

'Caer' is Welsh for 'fortress / citadel'.

Graham

Thompson
08-12-2011, 04:54
RAF Caerwent, known by the American Forces as Reserve Storage Activity, Caerwent, was used to store ammunition by the US Army, not the US Air Force. I am a retired Army officer and was the American commander between 1989 and 1991.

Thompson
08-12-2011, 04:59
Seeing a post on Welford I thought Id ask about this place. What exactly did the RAF and the USAF use it for? And when did it close?

The US Army, not the US Air Forced used Caerwent to store ammunition. The RAF was the British host service for American visiting forces and, as such was the "landlord" while the Army used the facility. It closed in 1993.

PETERTHEEATER
08-12-2011, 08:07
Welcome to AiX Thompson,

Point taken, thanks. It was probably the RAF's association with Caerwent that caused the assumption that it was used by the USAF.

canberra
09-12-2011, 22:27
All the American facilities in the UK were/are RAF, confusingly including the US Army maritime facility at Hythe.

buccaneer66
09-12-2011, 22:29
Hmm I associate Caerwent more with the Romans than the RAF.

PETERTHEEATER
10-12-2011, 05:22
Quite right! The Romans stored ammunition for their ballistae there:)

mw0sec
10-12-2011, 12:13
Caerwent started life (1936) as the Royal Naval Propellant factory, a successor to the RNCF Holton Heath. In 1965 it was decided to move cordite manufacture to Bishopton in Scotland. Final closure was in 1967.
I visited the site in 1987 when it was a joint RAF/USA site and remember a great deal of the original buildings now empty of plant, but full of various types of missile. The C.O. at the time was a S/L Chadwick.
A later visit sometime in the 90's showed the site to be deserted and overgrown, with occasional use for police riot training.

If a more detail is required, I would suggest contacting Mr. Medwyn Parry of the Royal Historical Commission of Monuments (Wales), as he has made a detailed study of the site and its history.

Les.

PETERTHEEATER
11-12-2011, 06:43
http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/96062/collection/CAERWENT%2C+ROYAL+NAVAL+PROPELLANT+FACTORY%3B+RNPF +CAERWENT/

ColinBa
11-12-2011, 10:41
I know its obvious but see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Navy_Propellant_Factory,_Caerwent and the links from it.

Hawkkeeper
06-02-2012, 23:52
I've been to cearwent numerous times since 1996, for soth wakles car rallies, it's a huge site, loads of buildings & some have been disassembled, a fair bit of the railway system is still intact & there are stories of steam & diesel shunters on site, hiding in a big shed, haven't found them yet, google earth gives a good overhead view of this site.

KCF949
24-08-2013, 17:54
Here's some photos from this year of the domestic site. Kevin


13518135191352013521135221352313524135251352613527 13528135291353013531

Blanket Stacker
28-08-2013, 09:38
The US Army, not the US Air Forced used Caerwent to store ammunition. The RAF was the British host service for American visiting forces and, as such was the "landlord" while the Army used the facility. It closed in 1993.

Didn't close all together - i worked there for a week in around 2000.

Richard Flagg
03-02-2014, 19:38
Am I right in thinking that Caerwent is where the episode of Top Gear was filmed that was aired on BBC2 on 2 Feb 2014 (opening episode of the 21st series)?

buccaneer66
03-02-2014, 20:38
It was indeed Rich.