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Thread: Thurleigh / Bedford

  1. #1
    Member DamienB's Avatar
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    Default Thurleigh / Bedford

    Aerial view to start with, top is east. The red circle denotes an area south of the airfield where most of the remaining photos were taken, and is where the memorial is sited.



    The memorial is outside a small off-airfield recreation site - the building in the background was the squash court, and there is an open air tennis court behind it.



    Lying in the rubbish piled up in the squash court entrance:



    Past the tennis court you come to the main rec block:



    ...inside, the remains of the bar:



    ...this corridor gives an idea of the state of the place...



    ...but the Air Ministry safe retains its decoration!



    View out of the dining hall:



    Driving further along the road to the NE of the memorial, you'll see the odd air raid shelter dotted about in the fields:



    A reminder of cold war days...



    ...and these are the old v-bomber ops huts from when Thurleigh was a v-bomber dispersal site - located just north of the eastern end of the main runway (top middle in the aerial photo).



    It's a huge site and I've just scratched the surface here really.

  2. #2

    Default Thurleigh and Twinwood Taxiway

    Seeing NorwichPaul's post in on a different thread prompted me to as this. What was the route that the planned taxiway was going to take? Where is the bit of dipped road (NGR if poss)??

    Thanks

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    Richard, I'd ask mpb0277. I'm sure he has a photo of the current road which follows the cutting made for the road to undershoot the proposed extensive airfield works. Without looking and from memory, it was all to do with Bristol Brabazon. When I have a moment or two, I'll have a look through my own sources. I've just had a quick scan of Mark's web site but can't find said photo.

    Chris

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    Hi

    Wasn't Thurleigh also going to receive a five mile runway that would have reached Little Staughton.

    I think the point the taxiway was going to cross the road was at

    TL 03627 57855

    52 12.556'N 0 29.099'W

    Stevo

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    Hi Stevo, I've just been looking at the maps and that grid ref is pretty much the same as I have come up with which I was just about to post! It's pretty much half way between Twinwood and Thurleigh. I got it to TL 03638 57878.

    Thurleigh's runway was certainly lengthened to accommodate the Brabazon and of course, it became RAE Bedford, being relinquished in 1994 (I think).

    Certainly an interesting discussion though. Let's keep it up!

    Chris

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    OTBC Paul Francis's Avatar
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    Stevo is correct, the plans for the five mile runway are at the RAFM. It also had two parallel railway lines for testing rocket engines running one either side over its full length. Little Staughton was the Ministry of Supply depot for all the liberated German equipment from the test site at Volkenrode in Germany.

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    Senior Member kebecker's Avatar
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    My memory must be playing tricks, I actually found Action Stations Vol 6, by MJF Bowyer....no picture!!!

    There is however an excellent description of "the motorist now discovers, in a deep recession,, a stretch of completly unexpected dual carriageway"

    A quick look at google earth shows a stretch of road between the A6 and the village called Milton road wich dips into a cutting.

    If anyone can explain how to include a reliable link I would appreciate it. I am a bit of a computer numbskull!

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    OTBC Paul Francis's Avatar
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    Work on reconstruction at Thurleigh did not begin until October 1951 which included the re-slabbing of two existing runways and the construction of two new runways. The main E-W runway was initially built to 8,100ft but it was decided in July 1952 to continue work to the east, making a total length of 10,500ft (Stage 1) which at the time was one of the largest paved strips in Europe. As originally conceived (in 1947), the next stage was to extend the runway up to three miles but the final ultimate design length was actually a staggering 25,000ft, which would have taken the runway further east almost into the centre of the WWII airfield at Little Staughton!

    The first landing on the new E-W runway took place during June 1954. By October 1956 a new control tower had been built which replaced a temporary air traffic control caravan. As originally planned (1947), hangars, workshops and offices were going to be built on the Main (Wind Tunnel) Site (at Twinwood Farm) and served by a long taxiway to the runway. The four-year delay in starting with the construction of the runway gave further time for the planning stage and instead this group of buildings were erected closer to the runway but still on the south side of the airfield. The main site at Twinwood Farm then became re-designated as Tunnel Site. At the new location, three large (200ft span) aluminium-framed hangars and associated technical buildings and workshops were erected to house the Flight Division of the Aerodynamics Department who were due to move from Farnborough in 1955. The aim of this flight was to further the improvement of future aircraft, particularly of low-speed flight as well as performance, stability and control at transonic and supersonic speeds.

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    I can confirm that the cutting for the road is at TL 0360 5786. The road surface had deteriorated with some of the original concrete showing through the potholes but it has been recently resurfaced.

    An outline plan of the proposed taxiway is shown in the book 'Wings over Thurleigh - An Aeronautical Research Heritage 1954 to 1994' by Michael D.Dobson, ISBN 0-9541594-0-3. The source for the plan is an article in the Aeroplane dated 30th August 1946, should any of you have access to specialist libraries.

    The book is primarily about the research carried out at RAE Bedford and is not an airfield history in the conventional sense. Nevertheless if you're into technical stuff it's a fascinating read.

    One interesting snippet, referenced to TNA file AVIA 15/2091, is that one of the reasons that the 5 mile runway to Little Staughton was scuppered was that the War Office had planned to build a tank training ground between Thurleigh and Little Staughton and therefore objected to the runway. However after all that the training ground was never built (thankfully for us local residents ).

    Peter

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