View Full Version : Tilstock

Kevin Mears
10-05-2008, 18:14
With the indulgence of the forum, and in respect of the fact that this section is so far a little bare, I hope you won't mind me posting a couple of posts I made on the PlaneTalk forum a while back regarding the former RAF Tilstock which has also been known as Prees Heath and Whitchurch. I have copied them both across in their entirety. If they break any forum rules or are deemed by the moderating team to be inappropriate then please feel free to delete them.

Prees Heath and RAF Tilstock.

On Saturday I was driving up to Runcorn but because of an accident on the M6 I decided to take the alternative route of the A41 and go up through Whitchurch. It was a beautiful afternoon and Shropshire was at its best as I headed North West.

Familiar names came and went, Hinstock, where I used to work and which played home to the former HMS Godwit. Up past Child's Ercall and Tern Hill, from where, as a Cadet in the ATC, I enjoyed a number of glider flights in the Sedbergh. Then on up the long straight stretch past the largely abandoned wartime airfield at Prees Heath.

This was a place I remembered well from childhood. The junction of the A49 and A41 was the home of the 'Raven', a pub, cafe and amusement arcade which was the regular halt for coach trips from the Black Country to Rhyl and Prestatyn. Over recent years, the site has fell into further decline with the Watch Office now boarded up over on the West side of the A41. The East side still plays host to a skydiving school so the sound of aero engines still reverberates through the woods which are rapidly reclaiming the airfield. A Rally School also operates from the site. As I drove up through the airfield, the dappled light through the trees looked lovely and I thought exploring the site would be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. I continued my journey North to Runcorn but resolved to return to Prees Heath the following afternoon if the weather remained as nice.

Sunday came and the weather obliged so off I went. Unfortunately I only took the one lens with me but decided to continue anyway. But first of all, here’s a little bit about the history of the place. Prees Heath is exactly what it says, a large flat expanse of heathland. This area proved to be ideal for the establishment of both an Army Training Camp during the Great War and as Military Hospital with hutted accommodation for some 609 beds. Whitchurch, just 4 miles distant, was home to the Welsh Metropolitan War Hospital which had previously served as the Cardiff City Asylum. It seems the good citizens of Cardiff wished their mentally ill citizens to be neither seen nor heard. This establishment accommodated 61 Officers and 839 other ranks of which some 14 Officer beds and 416 other ranks beds were reserved for those with a mental incapacity resulting from their war service. Prees Heath must have been the basic training camp for thousand upon thousand of Great War soldiers but more of that later.

The RAF, during the expansion and inter war period, found Shropshire to be eminently suitable for the building of a number of airfields, mainly for training purposes and both Shawbury and Tern Hill are still in use today. With the coming of the War in 1939, a further huge expansion occurred as the number of airfields required, particularly for training, increased dramatically to fulfill the need for aircrew. The site at Prees Heath was ideal and an airfield was constructed and opened in August of 1942. Three concrete runways were laid and four T2 Hangars erected. These remain today although they have since been reclad. Three are on the West side of the A41 with the other just off the road to the East. During the War, the airfield, renamed RAF Tilstock, was home to 81 OTU with Whitleys and Wellingtons, 38 (Airborne Forces) Group involved in the training of aircrew for Special Operations and the towing of Horsa Gliders, 1665 Heavy Conversion Unit with Stirlings and Halifexes and 42 OTU with Albermarles. 81 OTU eventually became No 1380 Transport Support Conversion Unit. The airfield closed in early 1946 and was placed on care and maintenance until the early 1950’s at which point it was sold. Onto t he photographs…..

My first port of call was to the West side of the airfield from where I could get a decent view of the Watch Office.


A drive up and down the A41 alongside the airfield revealed that access could be obtained onto the East side and to the number of derelict buildings which remain. There was in fact a well trodden path used by dog walkers and others so I parked up and went for a wander into the very dense woodland reclaiming the camp. I have no idea of the use of any of the buildings. Another visit when properly equipped will allow me to explore further.


I've a feeling the next two shots were possibly the former main entrance.


More buildings, this time taken from the side of the road. The last, which is barely visible, appears to be one of several underground buildings or shelters.


I was wondering about casualties. OTU's inevitably had accidents, and invariably some were fatal. So I set off for St Chad's Church in the village of Prees itself. And any of you who know me will realise it was somewhat inevitable that I would find myself sidetracked.

The Church is in a most beautiful setting with the War Memorial just outside the Churchyard.


It was here that I began to see the familiar white Commonwealth Headstones, three of them.


Flying officer H N Young, DFC & Bar, MiD. 12 Squadron, RAF. July 1921, aged 22.
Son of Goulder James and Mary Elizabeth Young of Fairview, Prees. At the time of his death, 12 Squadron were flying Bristol F2b’s at Bickendorf.


14799 Regimental Sergeant Major J R Scriven, 8th Bn., South Lancashire Regiment. 22nd March 1917, aged 45. Serving as Sergeant Major, 51st Training Reserve Battalion at the time of his death. Husband of Jane Scriven, 12, Alfonso Road, Kirkdale, Liverpool.

And the one which gave this thread its title and which sums up for me personally the whole essence of Remembrance and why so many of us are inexorably drawn to recording and remembering our history.


1380052 Sergeant Herbert Mason, W.Op/Air Gnr., 78 Squadron RAFVR. 1st May 1943, aged 20. Son of Solomon and Mary Anne Mason of Prees. On the night of 30th April/1st May 1943, Sgt. Mason was flying as part of the crew of Halifax II W7929, coded EY-S. Having taken off at 2352 to attack Essen, the aircraft had been damaged by flak and was forced to attempt an emergency landing at Docking on the Norfolk Coast. As a result of the subsequent crash, Sgt’s Rudd (DFM, RAAF), Wilson, Pike, Mason and Oldroyd were killed. Sgt’s Davies and Rashbrook were injured. Sgt. Rudd had been awarded and Immediate DFM for his actions on a previous operation to Stettin.

The final two shots for this part are of the War Memorial in Prees.


The next part uncovers through Headstones some of the uses of Prees Heath in the Great War and a return to the airfield at sunset.

Thank you for your indulgence.



Kevin Mears
10-05-2008, 18:17
I was still curious as to the location of casualties from RAF Tilstock and so I moved on to the village of Tilstock and in particular Christ Church Churchyard and the Churchyard extension which lies around 100 yards from the Church on the opposite side of the road.

The Church itself is very nice but of a somewhat different style to that of St. Chad's in Prees. It provides a place of Eternal rest for over 40 men who died during the Great War. The first few shots are just general views of the Church, the view to the west of the Church, the Lych gate at the entrance of the Churchyard Extension which was opened in 1917 because of the number of casualties and of the War Memorial located in the extension.


I found that a number of the graves were of Airman, English, Australian, Canadian and South African. A few are pictured below with the information that a few minutes on the internet can reveal.


2nd Lieutenant J F Kneale, Royal Flying Corps. 21st December 1917.

Compare that with the next one.....


2nd Lieutenant Reginald James Thomas Forsyth, Pilot, Australian Flying Corps. 16th February 1918. Died of Wounds. Son of John Lile Lewis Forsyth and Elizabeth Christina Forsyth. 2nd Lieutenant Forsyth originally served with the 1st Light Horse Regiment and came to the Middle East with the 7th Reinforcements, embarking upon HMAT Marere on the 16th August 1915. Was wounded while with this unit on 4th August 1916. After transfer to the AFC, 2nd Lieutenant Forsyth was injured in a flying accident on the 20th January 1918 and admitted to Prees Heath Military Hospital. Sustaining serious head injuries and a fractured ankle, he never fully regained consciousness and died on the 16th of February as a result of his injuries.

Just look at the difference in what is available. It seems that both Australia and Canada are far more adept at putting people in touch with the information they require at no cost. While the NA at Kew is a remarkable resource, the facility for downloading information through the internet lags way behind both Australia and Canada.


29412 Air Mechanic 1st Class C R Clack, 131 Squadron, Royal Air Force. 5th May 1918.


2nd Lieutenant Gabriel Pieter Cilliers, No 13 Training Depot Station, Royal Air Force. 10th November 1918.


Lieutenant William Burt Bickell, 13th Training Depot Station, Royal Air Force. 12th October 1918, aged 25. Son of Mrs. M J Hancock of Toronto, Canada. Lieutenant Bickell died of injuries received in a flying accident while serving as an instructor. His Brother, 157358 Private George Thomas Bickell was killed in action on the 30th of October 1917 while serving with Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light infantry. He is interred at Tyne Cot and is also commemorated here at Tilstock.


1397 Gunner Walter Harrel Herford, 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps. 4th October 1917, aged 49. Died of sickness. Son of Charles James and Mary Jane Herford. Gunner Herford was a farmer from Katanning, Western Australia and enlisted on the 13th August 1915. He embarked at Fremantle on HMAT Benalla on 1st November 1915 for transportation to the UK.


2nd Lieutenant Edward Phillip Hughes, Royal Flying Corps. 27th July 1917, aged 24. Son of Edward James and Louise Ada Hughes of Cape Province, South Africa.


959 Cadet Edward Jabez Cooper Treadwell, 4 Squadron, Australian Flying Corps. 20th September 1917, aged 22. Son of Edward Cooper Treadwell and the late Mary Jane Treadwell. His father wrote that he had served in the Australian Citizens Forces as a Lieutenant and was rejected for active service on three occasions owing to foot problems. He was finally accepted into the AFC and embarked on RMS Omrah in Melbourne on 17th January 1917. He died as a result of injuries sustained in a flying accident near Tern Hill.

A number of the other graves relate to those who died while serving with Training Reserve Battalions at Prees Heath. These were units set up specifically to provide reinforcements to their attatched Line Regiments. This process was constantly under review and subject to changes necessitated by the losses on the Western Front. Many of these soldiers were just 18 and in training at the time of their deaths. Others were soldiers recovering from wounds and acting as instructors or were NCO's too old for active service. I suspect several died from wounds received in action and a number of the deaths appear to be in clusters suggesting to me that Influenza may have been responsible.The grave below I found quite interesting.


T/309876 Driver C Spencer, 237th Coy (Prees Heath), Royal Army Service Corps. 31st July, 1917, aged 29. Son of Charles Spencer of 2, Faroe Road, Hammersmith, London. The CWGC entry states that Dvr Spencer served as Anderson. I wonder what the reason was for serving under an alias? Age wasn’t the issue.


Major Guy Winwood Gossage, 3rd West Lancs Brigade, Royal Field Artillery. 24th December 1917, aged 47. Husband of Helen Gossage of Wrexham. Helen, who died in 1944, lies with him.

I have photographs of every grave and preliminary details for each soldier should anyone be interested.

The remaining photo's are of a stained glass window at Tilstock, two of the T2 Hangars with the sun going down behind them, one of the Watch Office in the twilight and a random sunset taken from the side of the road about halfway home.


And the casualties from the OTU at Tilstock? I found them, at Whitchurch Cemetery. I feel another visit coming on.

Saturday 10th May.

I hope these posts have met with approval. They combine several of my interests, these being airfield history, Memorialisation in all its forms, Bomber Command and the Great War.


Kevin Mears

Peter Kirk
10-05-2008, 19:35

A great set of pictures.
Not having been to a lot of graveyards I always found it strange that there always seemed to be a military grave whenever I did.



10-05-2008, 21:33
Indulge away Sir... beautiful photographs

I went through there myself last year on my way to Cosford for their annual bash, and you just 'know' when you're in airfield country... I noticed a few hangars and other buildings while driving through... I'd previously been unaware of its existence.

Theres one further down the road too, and another at Alpraham on the A51 which is now an industrial estate..

11-05-2008, 08:58

Some great pictures there, feel free to post many more! REF, CDP and myself are hoping to spend a few days in the Shropshire region at the end of may, anymore pictures or info would be gratefully received.



Richard Flagg
12-05-2008, 10:46
Hi Kevin

A really great write up and some lovely photos as well, Please keep them coming.

As Noel said in the reply above, We, along with Chris are looking to come across to Shropshire at the end of the month and if you have any pointers or places to visit then let us know.

I look forward to seeing the next set of photos from your next trip out.


Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 12:14
Called in at RAF Tilstock, Shropshire, the other week, to see what's left. Here are some of the pictures we took.


Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 12:17
Another building in the woods just South of airfield at side of A41. Seems like it was a domestic site / training site. Most of the building pics are in this wooded area.


Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 12:19
The old Contro;l Tower.


Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 12:21
Another building in the woods, same site as previous.


Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 12:23

Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 12:26
One of the 5 T-2 Hangars on the airfield site. All have been reclad and are used for storage, grain and general commodities.


Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 12:29
Another of the T- 2's.

Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 12:31
This one is across the A41 from the main airfield site. Seems a bit unusual to have a main Trunk Road diseccting the site ?


Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 12:33
Junction of Secondary runway and perimeter track. You can just make out the Control Tower in the distant background, if you look carefully.


Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 12:36
View along perimeter track towards Main site entrance and A41.


Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 12:38
A nice neat line of concrete basis. Anybody any idea for what they could have been used for. Approximately 100 yards to rear of Control Tower, if that helps.


Peter Kirk
14-10-2008, 14:14
Looks a nice location. Is there still an active airfield there?
I seem to remember that the Shropshire Star ran an article on Tilstock, including a simple layout plan. They also covered other Shropshire airfields over a period. That must be unique for a local paper?


Lt Cmdr ( A )
14-10-2008, 16:44
Hi Peter.
Yes, a Sky Diving Club use a 800 metre length of the secondary runway at weekends and also a Rally School use part of the perimeter track.

airfields man
28-03-2009, 23:07
Early 1990 Rednal Control Tower.

airfields man
28-03-2009, 23:16
Sorry, Looking at the Control Towers Site it dosen't seem to be quite the same ? Though i definately took the photographs in 1990 !! But where ??? Never was too good at logging things !!

15-06-2009, 19:45
Taken 2009


15-12-2009, 22:02
Interesting post on pprune:


It is notable that the post comes from a first-time poster on pprune and his focus is on sale of the land and its registration as common land. Could there be some sort of local dispute or campaign for public access?

24-01-2010, 21:03
Hi all
Here are a few of the internal of the ops block

that one is not inside of the ops block





there is a few more plus external buildings

regards Ian

24-01-2010, 21:54
Being greedy now heres some more external though






Regards Ian

20-02-2011, 20:21
I had a visit at Tilstock today, went away from the main site in the woods, and came across the BHG although flooded,here goes





also a double turret trainer 11023/40


Richard Flagg
17-05-2011, 00:23
Link received from Rob Truman. BBC report plans to preserve the airfield at Prees Heath / Tilstock Airfield


25-07-2011, 17:46
Anyone know if I can get access to it overnight, or if anyone would object. Do we know who to contact for official permission to stay there overnight?

18-08-2011, 11:49
Had a hour around Tilstock yesterday to take some pics and came up with these,

Inside the OPS block 15886-40, a room i hadnt been in before, not with a torch anyway, still visible the ops board



And these in the Guard House 12404-41 the concrete stove plinth still in situ with the heat discolouring to the wall behind where the flue pipe would of been




14-09-2011, 23:35
Some shots of the control tower / watch office at Tilstock. The EXIF data on the originals says 13 May 1999 and taken with a Kodak DC240, which would be about right.







Richard Flagg
15-09-2011, 06:36
Nice photos Sparky67, good to see the inside of the tower and the views. When I visied a couple of years ago the tower was boarded/blocked up.

15-09-2011, 22:38
Last one, showing the view across the airfield from one of the larger windows on the first floor...


Sorry about the quality. That early (company issue) digital camera was certainly very handy but I'm sure my older Yashica SLR would have produced better results ;)

26-09-2011, 09:39
...and an aerial view of Tilstock taken in Sep 2011


Unfortunately my newish camera couldn't see its 8Gb SD card for some reason on this flight so saved this on its internal memory - hence the very tweaked low-res photo ;)

30-09-2011, 16:34
Interesting BBC report. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-13198657

Prees Heath Common, owned by Butterfly Conservation, features a former World War II air traffic control tower and runway.

The tower has been identified for restoration by the Meres and Mosses Landscape Partnership.

The group, led by Shropshire Wildlife Trust, has been set up for five years thanks to a 1.5m Heritage Lottery grant.

02-10-2011, 04:50
Better known to us as Tilstock airfield:



Good news if they carry it through. Presumably the 'field will be sown rough to attract butterflies?

Richard Flagg
23-11-2011, 15:35
Tilstock Tower - May 2008


02-12-2011, 02:58
Someone wanted the windsock. hope this his ok.taken May 79-on my way to Rhyl.
havin a short break...30 min-not long..on a coach trip..

04-07-2012, 16:02
I live about 3 miles from tilstock and love this site. If you ever fancy an airfield walk, you can do here as they have made part of it a nature reserve. Well worth a visit.

05-07-2012, 06:01
Some personal memories here:


The following is an extract from the Butterfly Reserve website:

LOCATION Explorer Map 241 Shrewsbury, Wem, Shawbury & Baschurch
Landranger (pink) Map 126 Shrewsbury & Oswestry
Grid reference for the entrance: SJ557363

Prees Heath Common reserve is bounded by the A49 and A41 roads which meet at a large
roundabout a little over 2 miles south of Whitchurch. The reserve is in the V of the two roads as
they approach the roundabout, which is at the northern end of the Heath. There is a pay-anddisplay
car park near the roundabout and facilities and refreshments are available here.

The main gate to the reserve is a mile south of the roundabout, just off the A49 on its east side.
Drive down a short track which starts almost opposite the junction of a minor road to Steel Heath
on the other side of the A49. There is enough space for turning and for several cars to be parked
near the entrance.

Once at the entrance, you will find that there are several tracks into the reserve. Walking is easy
(except for rabbit holes) and there is open access so you can go anywhere, but please observe
notices about on-going conservation work. To explore the reserve you can make a circular walk,
starting by walking north on the old runway, continuing to the old control office building, and
then back past the old hangers (not part of the reserve) on the west side. This would be a good 2-
mile walk.

Because the heath is essentially flat, larger-wheeled mobility scooters would be able to handle it,
but you can get well into the reserve with normal wheelchairs.

Whitchurch and the village of Prees both have stations on the Crewe to Shrewsbury mainline

10-05-2013, 21:20
I've had a request from the TV production company working on an episode for the BBC programme "Heir Hunters" for some 1940's period photographs of RAF Tilstock for use in the programme. If anyone has any or knows the whereabouts of any, can you PM please? Thanks.

06-11-2013, 12:53
The three bomb store Fuzing Point sheds at Tilstock:


Unusual is the location of one on the handle of a 'frying pan' dispersal but is confirmed by a 1945 AM Drawing.

07-11-2013, 12:48
The building on the dispersal looks totally different to the other two. Is it a later structure?

07-11-2013, 13:49
No, all three are standard Temporary Hut type with pitched roofs. The one on the hardstand may have been re-roofed or painted. I had originally though like you that it had been relocated post war but the drawing shows otherwise. The usual number of FP sheds was three and the TB version, unlike the Nissen type, it is not practical to move from the original location. Roofing and trusses OK but half-brick rendered walls.........

07-11-2013, 17:13
Maybe it's in the position you expect but it's two metres narrower and five metres longer than the other two huts - that is what made me wonder rather than the position.

08-11-2013, 10:58
Thanks jorge, I shall take another look at the RSP and the GE image.

Right; I've done that. The current structure is in the same place but yes, it is longer and not as wide. A 1971 OS 2500 map shows a longer shed too. Unfortunately, the RSP does not have a Building Schedule so I can't check that. TB sheds like this used standard dimension roof trusses which came in 18 foot widths and 28 foot widths so it could be a narrow version. It is drawn with a ISD circle so was an explosive building and the usual complement of FPs was three .

14-11-2013, 14:41
Just so you know peeps,

lot 3


starting at 140,000.00. If you have the money, give it to me as I'd love to own this lot....

loads of buildings and loads of history in those there woods....

Please save this area.

16-01-2014, 18:54
This in the Shropshire star newspaper tonight


At least they say the tower will be renovated and open to the public.

Regards Ian

24-01-2014, 23:48
There is now a fence erected around the tower and scaffolding erected around the building. It can all be seen from the A41 as you cross the old airfield.

25-01-2014, 21:00
There is now a fence erected around the tower and scaffolding erected around the building. It can all be seen from the A41 as you cross the old airfield.

Many thanks, rod_vw

At least it looks like the restoration/renovation is about to begin, I am quite looking forward to seeing it hopefully at different stages as they complete the work.

Regards Ian

22-02-2014, 23:16
Looked to be busy with a lot of scaffolding and various bits and pieces going on around it when I passed it on Wednesday !!

24-02-2014, 01:51
Hi All,

Went to see my mates band in Wrexham on Saturday and coming back drove down the A41.

Tilstock tower seems to be included in the SSI protecting a rare type of butterfly.......here are some pics of the watch office and scaffolding!

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040833.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040833.jpg.html)

Crittall twisted and discarded!

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040828.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040828.jpg.html)

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040827.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040827.jpg.html)

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040816.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040816.jpg.html)

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040814.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040814.jpg.html)

The undulating ground and traces of brick masonry around the tower are all that remain of the support buildings.

Directly in front of the tower about a mile away is the 25yard range.

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040799.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040799.jpg.html)

I will add a second post for more information regarding the ops block area in the woodlands to the North East of the watch office just off the A41


24-02-2014, 02:09
Hello Again,

Here's a picture of the B1 and twin T2 hangars from the existing runway.

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040789.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040789.jpg.html)

Meanwhile it seems as though the land containing the operations block and ancillary buildings has been sold at auction in December 2013.

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040886.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040886.jpg.html)

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040885.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040885.jpg.html)

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040882.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040882.jpg.html)

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040884.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040884.jpg.html)

I hope the new owner looks after these buildings. RAF opps blocks are becoming less common these days.

Here's a shot of the fire pool next to the generator.

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040883.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040883.jpg.html)

Someone used an aircraft tie down as a wine cooler.....unfortunately they for got to remove it!

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040872.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040872.jpg.html)

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040844.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040844.jpg.html)

People can I just say that it was so windy I could hardly stand up......the things I do for "the cause" (lol)

Hope you enjoy...........I took loads more pics of buildings etc.. If you would like me to post them just say.



Another Number
24-02-2014, 09:17
Great stuff, keep the coming Mick!

25-02-2014, 02:39
Good to see the tower preserved.. what is that bent and rusty metalwork?

26-02-2014, 04:36
Peter .....to me it's a crittall metal window taken from inside the watch office as previous photos on here show the windows to be blocked up.


27-02-2014, 10:16
Great set mate. Looks like a really interesting site with plenty to look at.

I've got a feeling you'll be returning here very soon....to give me the guided tour of the place :wink:


28-02-2014, 04:40
http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040896.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040896.jpg.html)

Above is a rather romantic view of the twin turret trainer. (I've got a new zoom lens for my G3!). Can anyone tell me what the building is below

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040895.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040895.jpg.html)

http://i240.photobucket.com/albums/ff96/TigersUK7/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040894.jpg (http://s240.photobucket.com/user/TigersUK7/media/RMJA-VAIO/2014-02-23%20001/P1040894.jpg.html)

Steve mate .....It's nailed on we'll be going back soon, just let me know when your available :-)


02-03-2014, 03:42
Thanks Mick...

03-04-2014, 07:48
Didn't photograph it as driving but the watch office exterior is now clear of scaffold and is wearing a two colour camoflage paint scheme. Looks very tidy, shame the windows were bricked up rather than replaced though.

21-04-2014, 14:24
Just driven by and noticed the same but the centre upper window now has some kind of metal louvre grill over it

21-04-2014, 16:48
That one was there when I passed by. Probably something to do with the first floor being set aside as a bat roost.

22-05-2014, 19:08
Here is a bit more news concerning the former tower, this from todays shropshire star 22/05/14


Regards Ian

Richard Flagg
22-05-2014, 20:13
I note the video link on youtube refers to the Watch Office as a 'War Bunker'


YouTube screenshot

I guess there is no hope now.....

Peter Kirk
22-05-2014, 22:29
If it's on the internet it must be correct. War Bunker it is :)

23-05-2014, 05:22
Maybe the caption writer was a Geordie:)

24-05-2014, 17:39
As ugly as it looks at least it is not full of grafitti etc..

28-05-2014, 09:03
Firstly I would like to introduce myself - I am Stephen Lewis, employed by Butterfly Conservation as Prees Heath Warden since Butterfly Conservation purchased the western half of Prees Heath Common in 2006. The site provides a sanctuary for the last remaining colony of Silver-studded Blue butterflies in the Midlands, and much of my work centres around restoring large areas of the Common that were ploughed up and used to grow crops in the postwar period back to heathland - a very challenging task!

When we purchased the site in 2006 the control tower was completely open to the elements, covered in grafitti and in a filthy condition - it had been used as a toilet. We had the interior professionally cleaned, the doors and windows boarded up and the condition of the building assessed by a Building Surveyor. We carried out a public consultation exercise locally to gain the views of people as to what should be done with the building, and, although a small minority were in favour of demolition as they considered it an eyesore, most favoured some sort of restoration - the main question was what sort of restoration. The site is Open Access land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 as well as Registered Common Land, which means the public can walk anywhere on the site at any time, and it is very prone to vandalism of various kinds. Being Common Land means that Secretary of State consent is required for certain works. From the outset it was clear that replacing the glass in the windows was a complete non-starter.

Alongside the issue of how to restore the building was the issue how to pay for the works. We are a nature conservation charity, and a membership organisation, and we have to prioritise work on the natural habitat. We had a clear choice - either to demolish the building as in time it would be a significant public safety hazard or to conserve it in some way. We were fortunate that the Heritage Lottery Fund made a grant to establish a Landscape Partnership Scheme in the local area, termed the Meres and Mosses Partnership, and agreement was reached for the HLF to provide some funding for the restoration of the building, and this was later supplemented by some funding from Natural England.

The next step was to develop our thinking as to how the building, which we viewed as an important historical artefact despite the fact that it is not listed, could be conserved. We appointed a Chartered Architect, who in turn engaged with a Structural Engineer, to draw up plans. We had a number of aims, which included the following:

To conserve the building as an important historical structure.
To install a series of 7 information panels around the exterior telling the archaeological, geological, natural, social and military history of Prees Heath Common (including a panel concerning the WW2 airfield).
To install bird nest boxes on the exterior.
To allow gaps at the tops of some of the windows to make the building accessible to birds, bats and insects, and to install bat nest boxes and roosting sites in some of the rooms inside.
To install a steel shutter in the window of the large room on the first floor (Control Room) so that that room can be used for a display and possibly for educational/community activities.
To paint the exterior.
To install a secure front door, but to make the building accessible for public guided walks and for others by arrangement with myself.

The work went out to tender and we appointed a local building firm to carry out the work, which was completed at the end of March. The roof was in poor condition, with moisture coming through the ceiling of the Control Room, and the work to repair the roof was immense -many tonnes of sand and cement were applied with a 1:100 fall from the centre to the edges measured with a laser, followed by two coats of asphalt (as was originally the case) and solar reflective paint. The render was also in bad condition and much had to be repaired. Wherever possible we have tried to use materials in keeping with the original construction by Alfred McAlpine in 1942. Since the building work was completed 12 trainees from nearby RAF Shawbury spent a weekend with me painting much of the interior, which was also covered in obscene grafitti. The official opening will take pace in a few weeks' time.

So, before you take a cursory glance at the building from the road and judge the work on the colour/pattern of the paintwork, I hope you can understand that the work we have carried out has been to conserve this historic building for the long term in the context of its location. I would be happy to show people round if they want to get in touch, and give people any further information they may need.

Best wishes,


28-05-2014, 12:56
Don't be discouraged by some of the comments Stephen. Many of us take a blue sky view of what we'd like to see happen with these structures...but at the same time we recognise that the reality will be different. Your group have secured the future of the building for future generations with interpretation of the locale - for that I applaud them.

Peter Kirk
28-05-2014, 13:01
Thanks for the background and explantion of the work carried out. There will be a few who won't like what you have done with the tower but the overriding thing is the tower has been preserved and that can only be good news.

Iain Taylor
25-06-2014, 23:52
Some photos from earlier this year when mini-me and I went out for a jolly.

25 Yard MG range, 6 point



EWS (there are several, some full)

Blast shelters (some good, some not so good)






Latrine blocks



Standy Set House


Iain Taylor
25-06-2014, 23:54
Picket Post

WAAF Corporal & Airwomens Quarters (remains are within a 'garden' that is surrounded by Stanton pieces)


Random stove tray

Station Headquarters



The bits 'urbex' types usually photograph.......

Guard House



Fire Tender House

Iain Taylor
25-06-2014, 23:55
Operations Block






Boiler Room

Operations Room

Annoyed that I didn't take a photo of the PBX room...second time I've forgotten it recently.

26-06-2014, 05:51
Nice coverage; thanks Iain.

21-08-2014, 19:57
Anybody wishing to visit former Raf Tilstock,s OPS building and surrounding buildings close by you might have to hurry before possibly being demolished to make way for houses.


Regards Ian

Richard Flagg
22-08-2014, 07:39
Anybody wishing to visit former Raf Tilstock,s OPS building and surrounding buildings close by you might have to hurry before possibly being demolished to make way for houses.


Regards Ian

Yet another place is being demolished,sorry to here this and I hope some of the locals get visit before demolition starts

Dave Wadd
20-09-2014, 12:51
A relative of my wife has recently bought a house near Prees Heath, so I will soon be exploring the area. Another of her relatives (second cousin) was instructor on a Wellington which crashed during fog after a night cross-country in December 1945. There were 4 of them on board and the navigator was killed. Although my wife's cousin has no recollection of the crash he was told later that the aircraft narrowly missed hangers because it was not lined up (with the short runway) and hit power lines just outside the airfield boundary whilst going round again. Does anyone know where I can gain more info about this accident ? My wife's cousin had previously completed a tour flying Wellingtons in Italy with 150 squadron.

Dave Wadd

30-11-2014, 16:02
New to the Forum. Was around Tilstock only this morning with my dog, Edward. I find it very difficult to put into my 'minds-eye' what was where etc. Looking at the information avavliable is one thing but putting it all in to context is something else.

However the more I look the more I see and the questions mount up! Facinating place.

Peter Kirk
30-11-2014, 16:20
I usually take a print of the area I am looking at from Google Earth, plus a map and if available a wartime plan or map. It's still difficult when on the ground but at least you can get a better idea of the layout. If the place is covered with modern housing and no remains then I don't bother. Luckily modern smartphones have GPS and online aerial photos and you can usually get an accurate fix on your current position. Oddly it is very accurate in the middle of nowhere but wildly inaccurate in populated areas!

07-12-2014, 13:33
Thank you. Once again I was at Tilstock this morning, dog walking. It is starting to come together. However there is always room, I feel, for a number of further stupid questions:wink:

The still active runway on the other side of the A41 (parachute school) was part of RAF Tilstock is that correct?


07-12-2014, 15:01
The still active runway on the other side of the A41 (parachute school) was part of RAF Tilstock is that correct?Bob.
Certainly was, Bob. See here (http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=52.932297&lon=-2.650768&lz=15&rz=15&lt=Old%2025K&rt=roadmap)

Mary King
11-01-2015, 00:59
I am trying to find out more about the Operations Building at Tilstock Airfield near Wem in Shropshire. I have a Plan of the Airfield (from Hendon Archives - great people! very helpful!) dated 1945 which shows the Operations building as 15886/40, and found a building plan on line (posted by Paul Francis) of such a building. It is very similar, but not exactly the same as the building on the Tilstock site. Can anyone confirm whether I have the correct plan for the building (Hendon don't have one) or did plans get amended for local circumstances?

There were also other discrepancies between the 1945 Plan and what is on site and I wondered if anyone knew how reliable these 1945 plans are? Can I rely on the building types they indicate?

Many thanks - this is a new area of research for me, I am more used to farms and country houses, but I'm getting hooked...

Paul Francis
11-01-2015, 10:01
Airfield plans are often unreliable though they can be very good, one should view them as a guide until compared with contemporary aerial photographs. Sometimes buildings are in the wrong place or dispersals are the wrong shape for example.

As for the operations building can you be more specific as to how it differs from the drawing that I did, its quite likely that there were or are a number of drawings to include deviations, amendments and local variations applicable to Tilstock. But the nearest drawing to your building will be 15886/40.

Mary King
11-01-2015, 12:12
Airfield plans are often unreliable though they can be very good, one should view them as a guide until compared with contemporary aerial photographs. Sometimes buildings are in the wrong place or dispersals are the wrong shape for example.

As for the operations building can you be more specific as to how it differs from the drawing that I did, its quite likely that there were or are a number of drawings to include deviations, amendments and local variations applicable to Tilstock. But the nearest drawing to your building will be 15886/40.

Thank you for replying so quickly! Very helpful. The differences between your plan of the Operations building and the building as it stands now appear not to be significant, but now I have the plan I will be able to go back and check the details. I have marked the main ones I've noticed on the attached plan. The Operations Building at Tilstock also has no windows at all - although windows shown on the plan. It looks like a bunker! Is this usual?19632 Be grateful for any comments. The Plans of the Station Headquarters appear almost exactly the same as those on the ground btw.

Peter Kirk
11-01-2015, 12:13
A good vertical aerial photograph form various dates shows what was there at the time of the photo and are a good way of confirming where the plans differ.

Paul Francis
11-01-2015, 13:37
Yes that plan is a post-war modified version which was the result of a survey. Until recently, that drawing was the only one we had but we (ARG) now have the original drawing in our archive which does not feature the windows as indicated in the above drawing. Your description of bunker-like is correct.

Mary King
11-01-2015, 14:34
Yes that plan is a post-war modified version which was the result of a survey. Until recently, that drawing was the only one we had but we (ARG) now have the original drawing in our archive which does not feature the windows as indicated in the above drawing. Your description of bunker-like is correct.

Thanks again! Would it be possible to see the original Plan? Or obtain a copy of it? Where are your Archives and can I visit/get information from Archivists? I would look at your Website, but it's down for the moment.

Paul Francis
11-01-2015, 15:29
The plan is held at Alconbury - details are in

Airfield Research Group Info & ARG Archive News - Info about joining the Airfield Research Group and the ARG Archives

We cannot digitise or copy it but you are welcome to photograpgh it.

Mary King
11-01-2015, 21:56
The plan is held at Alconbury - details are in

Airfield Research Group Info & ARG Archive News - Info about joining the Airfield Research Group and the ARG Archives

We cannot digitise or copy it but you are welcome to photograpgh it.

Many thanks