RAF Wroughton
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg
Wroughton, Wiltshire in England
Wroughton Airfield - geograph.org.uk - 1846.jpg
RAF Wroughton is located in Wiltshire
RAF Wroughton
RAF Wroughton
Shown within Wiltshire
Coordinates51°30′25″N 1°48′07″W / 51.507°N 1.802°W / 51.507; -1.802Coordinates: 51°30′25″N 1°48′07″W / 51.507°N 1.802°W / 51.507; -1.802
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Navy
Royal Air Force
Controlled byDirectorate of Naval Recruiting
RAF Maintenance Command
Open to
the public
no
Site history
Built1 April 1940
In use1940-1979 (1979)
Airfield information
Runways
Direction Length and surface
04/22 1,430 metres (4,692 ft) Asphalt
09/27 1,050 metres (3,445 ft) Asphalt
15/33 1,110 metres (3,642 ft) Asphalt

RAF Wroughton is a former Royal Air Force airfield near Wroughton, in Wiltshire, England, about 4 miles (6 km) south of Swindon. Ministry of Defence aviation activity ceased in 1972. The airfield now belongs to the Science Museum Group and is home to the National Collections Centre, which houses the group's large-object storage and library.

Early history

The airfield opened on 1 April 1940.[1] It was used for the assembly and storage of aircraft during the Second World War.[2]

The following units were here at some point:[3]

Control of RAF Wroughton was handed over to the Royal Navy and it became the Royal Naval Aircraft Yard Wroughton in 1972.[2]

RAF Princess Alexandra Hospital

RAF Hospital Wroughton was part of the station and stood near the eastern boundary of the site, about 1+12 miles (2.4 km) west of Chiseldon.[4] The RAF General Hospital (as it was known) opened on 14 June 1941 and by the end of March 1944 its bed capacity was 1,000. Wroughton continued as a General Hospital treating military patients, and from 1958 took NHS cases as well to relieve backlogs in the Swindon area.[5]

Following a visit to the hospital by Princess Alexandra on 4 July 1967, the Queen conferred the prefix "Princess Alexandra's" on the hospital on 4 October 1967. The hospital was the primary destination for returning casualties of the Falklands War in 1982.[6] When the hostages from Beirut were released in August 1991, Wg Cdr Gordon Turnbull, a psychiatrist based at Wroughton, with his team, debriefed John McCarthy, Terry Waite and Jackie Mann and provided the counselling necessary to ease them back into freedom.[7]

Hospital memorial
Hospital memorial

The hospital closed on 31 March 1996 as part of the Conservative Government's defence cuts at the end of the cold war. The hospital was demolished in 2004 and the site, called Alexandra Park, used for housing and a conference centre; a memorial commemorates the former hospital.[8]

Science Museum at Wroughton

Main article: Science Museum at Wroughton

The large-object storage of the Science Museum has been at Wroughton since 1979.[9]

Current use

In 2016 a 50 MW[10] solar farm was completed on about 67 hectares of the airfield, with over 150,000 solar panels. This was a joint project of Public Power Solutions (a commercial arm of Swindon Borough Council)[11] and the Science Museum Group.[12]

From 2016 to 2019, the television series The Grand Tour operated their test track on the north end of the airfield, with the track encircling part of the Science Museum's storage facilities.[13]

In 2010, Defence Estates stated that the Ministry of Defence still owned some 4.22 hectares of the site, where two linked hangar-type buildings were used by the Directorate of Naval Recruiting.[14]

See also

References

  1. ^ Chris Ashworth (1985). Action stations: Military airfields of the Central South and South-East. Volume 9 of Action Stations. Cambridge: Stephens. p. 307.
  2. ^ a b "Wroughton Airfield". Pastscape. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Wroughton". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 27 September 2021.
  4. ^ "Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps of Great Britain, sheet SU17". National Library of Scotland. 1960. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  5. ^ "RAF Hospital Wroughton". www.raf.mod.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  6. ^ Walker, Caroline (13 February 2009). "Air Vice-Marshal Frederick C. Hurrell". Imperial College London. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  7. ^ Stock, Jon (28 September 2002). "A safe haven for the hostage heroes". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  8. ^ "Memorial planned for former hospital". Swindon Advertiser. 3 February 2004. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  9. ^ Big Object storage. Science Museum. Accessed March 2015.
  10. ^ Stoker, Liam (6 July 2017). "First community benefit funds from 50 MW Swindon Solar Farm to be paid". Solar Power Portal. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  11. ^ "Solutions for the public sector". Swindon Borough Council. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  12. ^ (11 December 2013). Wiltshire solar farm at former RAF Wroughton site approved. BBC News. Accessed March 2015.
  13. ^ "Jeremy Clarkson fears BBC could sue over new racing show The Grand Tour if too similar to Top Gear". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  14. ^ "Request for Information: RAF Wroughton". whatdotheyknow.com. Defence Estates Secretariat. 4 January 2010. Retrieved 19 November 2020.

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