From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Raf Norton Disney

53° 10' 32.8" N 0° 43' 4.5" W
  • History
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
  • Gallery
RAF Norton Disney opened as RAF Swinderby in August 1939 due to its proximity to Swinderby rail station, it was renamed in 1940 once the airfield was established close by. Located close to the main railway lines with its own sidings, the site had one fully-enclosed component store, four enclosed stores for incendiaries and three groups of paired open-topped concrete storage magazines, each seventy-two feet square. All the storage buildings were widely dispersed and had additional shielding with earthworks, termed blast barriers or traverses. Each open magazine was designed to hold 56 tons of bombs. There were additional buildings for the site staff and their needs.

RAF Norton Disney's heavily camouflaged 93 Maintenance Unit was responsible for supplying bombs, ammunition and oxygen to the flying stations, in this case primarily RAF Hemswell, RAF Waddington and RAF Scampton. Norton Disney also had a small satellite site nearby.

RAF Norton Disney was an FFD, Forward Filling Depot, for filling mustard gas bombs. It is known that a train loaded with 25 tanks of mustard left Lords Bridge Depot for Norton Disney on 27th January 1955. A recent television programme found evidence for the existence of buried dumps of mustard gas at the former RAF Norton Disney, requiring disposal by the RAF (Home Ground, BBC North, 4th June 1998). It is thought that the site closed in 1958. However, it is known that stocks of mustard gas were moved here from the Sutton Bridge FFD during 1955 and were not removed until the 1980s. The site was briefly mentioned in the Parliamentary Papers (Hansard), as it had been the subject of Landscape Quality Assessments prior to the site's sale in 1997. RAF Norton Disney was the subject of five contamination (radiological and chemical) surveys from 1980 onwards, plus the costings, reviews of previous surveys and evaluations with regards the decontamination of the site.

These days, World War II sites are fast disappearing which will leave future generations with no real idea of how war changed this country. These sites are of historical importance, but not many people seem to recognise this. With a recent Time Team program devoted to searching for WWII defence structures in London, hopefully sites like RAF Norton Disney will not be forgotten. It is a shadow of its former self with most of the buildings demolished.