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

Raf West Raynham


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Raf West Raynham is a Royal Air Force base located close to the small village of West Raynham in Norfolk. Built in the late 1930's it was used by Bomber Command during the Second World War. A satellite base was built, Raf Great Massingham but this soon became a base in its own right.

The base was an expansion scheme airfield with a grass runway with the main buildings to the west of the runway. A bomb store was located to the south east. A concrete type 207/36 watch office was originally built but was soon replaced with a type 4698/43. Later a new control tower was built to suit heavy bombers. This was a type 294/45 and was one of only four to be built.

Bristol Blenheims were the first aircraft to be stationed on the base as part of 101 Squadron. These first saw action in 1940.

Concrete runways replaced the grass between May and November 1943. The base was expanded to accommodate 2,500 men and 650 women. De Havilland Mosquito fighter planes were based here at this time to provide escort for the bombers until the end of the war.

After the war Raf West Raynham became home to the Central Fighter Establishment and became the home of the first jet fighters such as the Vampire, the Venom, the Hunter and the Javelin. Canberra's were also stationed here.

In 1975, Bristol Bloodhound mkII surface to air missiles came to Raf West Raynham until disbanded in 1991.

The Royal Observer Corps held annual summer training camps at Raynham for up to eight weeks. 500 observers attended each week for technical training.

1994 saw the end of Raf West Raynham as a military air base although it remained in Mod control. The site was disused and the housing remained empty and fell into disrepair. The site was sold to a developer in 2006 but they sold it to Tamarix soon after in 2007. Tamarix planned to build new homes on the site and a hotel, as well as renovate the standing houses. The plans included turning the place into an eco-village, with a biomass generator to supply power. In 2008 planning permission was given for the construction of fifty-eight properties and for the conversion of the hangars into twenty loft style holiday apartments.

Attempts to gain Raf West Raynham Grade II listed status but this failed. Today the housing has be restored and sold but the rest of the air base is derelict.