RAF Upwood – Cambridgeshire

RAF Upwood opened in 1917 as a satellite field for RAF Elmswell. Shortly after opening, a few hangars and buildings were built. It closed in 1919. During the RAF expansion period in the mid 1930s the airfield was expanded drastically. Five hangars were built, and around 100 other buildings of varying sizes. The base finally closed in 1995. Wikipedia has a lot more info about the base.

The last twelve years haven’t been kind to the base. It has suffered badly at the hands of vandals. The hangars are in use by a turbine company and are inaccessible. The rest of the buildings are totally gutted, and used occassionally by “airsofters” (people with guns and small balls).

Guard House

This is the first thing you see when entering RAF Upwood. The Guard House. Inside is a little cell to detain people, a small shower block and some other rooms.

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Head Quarters

Opposite the Guard House is the main base HQ. Compared to the rest of the site, this is in quite good condition – there are even curtains in some rooms! In one of the back rooms was a huge black-board type thing for aircraft assignments.

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Community Centre

Next stop was the community centre. This is where the people stationed on the base would’ve come to relax sometimes. There was a bar inside and a sports court.

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Water Tower

The water tower looks the same as West Raynham’s. I would’ve climbed it but the ladders were covered in pigeon mess.

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Gas Decontamination Buildings

This is one (two) of the most impressive things at Upwood – two “underground” (under-mound?) gas decontamination buildings. They were built as a precaution – the use of gas weapons had been outlawed in 1925.

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Contaminated troops would’ve entered at one end, deposited their clothes in some chutes for washing/destroying; have a shower in the large line of cubicles; get new clothes from the store; and wait until the gas had gone outside. One of the bunkers was attatched to the hospital/sick quarters by a short passage.

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Stores

Used for storing stuff.

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Boiler House

Couldn’t climb this one – the door was blocked with bricks and debris.

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Officers Mess

This is where the officers would have lived and relaxed. There is a huge ballroom and a small cinema room.

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Sergeants Mess

The Sergeants Mess is joined to the Officers Mess via a corridor. It’s smaller and not as interesting. It is an E-shape.

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Dining Room

No explanation is really needed for this – it’s where the airmen would have eaten. In the back was an impressively-huge oven. And a mortuary tray.

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The chefs and staff would have accessed the upstairs level by this crazy little staircase. It was *really* narrow – I could barely fit up it! Upstairs was totally gutted (not a surprise) and the windows sort-of boarded up – again presumably for the gun people.

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Out the back was this little room – the back of the ovens.

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Entertainment building

This seemed to be some sort of entertainment area. I am not sure exactly what it was.

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Random Barrack Blocks

They all look the same, and it got a bit boring looking through them all.

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Tanks

There are two tanks at Upwood, used as elaborate props for the airsofters. They’re seriously cool…

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86 Responses to RAF Upwood – Cambridgeshire

  1. John Staworski says:

    Mark and Pam Hulyo – – – HI !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just happened to be checking this site and saw your message. There is a lot of news to share with you. If YOU check this site, please email me at wer4cubs@embarqmail.com, and we can exchange addresses and phone numbers. All the best, John

  2. Debbie Tucker says:

    I have recently reconnected with some old Upwood friends (some of the BEST friendships of my life), so many great memories and life changing times. I wish I wouldn’t have stumbled upon this site and just believed that Upwood was still the wonderful place it was in 89-91.

  3. Brian Scott says:

    I was an airmen in the USAF stationed at RAF Alconbury but we lived on RAF Upwood from early 93 until we closed it all up in 95. At that time the only thing still open was USAF clinic and most of the houses used for base housing were still occupied. The history of the base and the well kept grounds made me think I was stepping back in time. It is very sad to see it look like it does now. I made some of the best friends of my life there. We were like a family and the landlord of the George in Ramsey adopted us young airmen making it feel more like home. I remember the wind too, sometimes it would blow our radio antenna down and set off alarms. The memories of that place will keep it alive and this site proves RAF Upwood has a lot of memories.

  4. Jan Sweetland says:

    To all you folk concerned about the houses in Valiant Square, you will be happy to know that they have been restored and are being rented out. We moved into one in October and they are great houses with loads of character.
    We are also concerned that the RAF site is being left to the mercy of vandals.

  5. JOHN SHEPPARD EX RADAR REC FLIGHT says:

    GREETINGS TO ALLWHO BASED AT UPWOOD OUR FLIGHT WAS POSTED TO WHITTON AS
    I WAS DEMOBED & I OFTEN WONDER WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ALL THE OTHERS WHO USED TO MOAN ABOUT NIGHT FLYING & LOTS OF OTHER MINOR INCONVENIENCES I HOPE THEY HAVE MADE IT TO PENSIONABLE AGE LIKE ME AND CAN NOW BE DESCRIBED AS AS “A PAIN IN THE A###E,” TO THE YOUNGER GENERATION..

  6. Elena Whitworth says:

    hi there i live in bury next to RAF Upwood my Dad was there on a course in 1974 think it was an advancement course he had to go on when he was promoted to Sgt His name was Frank Burke and he worked in accounts just wondering if anyone remembers him

  7. Simon says:

    Hi I worked at Alconbury and Upwood in 90 to 97 defiantly some of the best years so i’ve had, made some great friends…… Unfortunate when the Americans decided to pull out after the Cold War we had the job moth balling the bases. We left each building secure clean and tidy

  8. Walter E. (Mac) McGurn says:

    I was assigned to RAF Alconbury as the 17th Recon was being re-established, and watch RAF Upwood go from a Trash Hip almost to some Very Nice Housing Unit. Stores, A School, Hospital, and after seeing these pictures of it since it almost wants to make me cry.

  9. John says:

    Buildings were secure, clean and tidy but surplus to requirements. MOD empowered the boys from Hereford to use them as a training facility afterwhich they were not secure, many doors blasted off, likewise windows, not that clean, many burn marks and lots of broken glass, and certainly not tidy. Only really fir for demolition and redevelopment which is why defence estates sold most of the facility off.

  10. John Watson says:

    I was an instructor at the USAFE NCO Academy in the mid 80s. Loved that school. Hated the Commandant, CMS Benton. I would spit in his eye to this day.

    • Karen Talamantez says:

      My husband was also an instructor at the school about the same time (1985-1992) and felt the same way about the Chief. I worked at RAF Alconbury. We lived at RAF Upwood for a time before we left in 1992. We lived in the old housing. It was a bustling place then.

  11. John Smith says:

    Served R A F Upwood on 214 F M S Squadron from oct 1950 until it was disbanded dec 1954. I then went to A F S until demob April 1955

  12. Ed Norman says:

    Informative site ! 49 Squadron served here in the early fifties and the crash that Jill Mason refers to was probably one of their Lincolns. 49 Squadron association is still going strong -please check out our website at 49squadron.co.uk for all 4T9ers and families.
    Ed Norman, 49 Sqn Archivist

  13. Noel callon says:

    I was stationed at raf upwood 1949 to1951 as a national serviceman ,I was a rigger,or

    you might say a airframe fitter,on the best squadron on the base No 49 of course,
    we had lancasters, then lincolns , when i left to be demobed. the best time of my life
    was spent at this fine station and the timesI had in shallufa on detatchment.
    will send further comment at alater date , bye ex Lac Callon.

  14. Alan Woodhouse says:

    Just came across this site for RAF Upwood and it brought back some fabulous memories of my time stationed there from 1958 to 61. I was a snowdrop (Police). Would love to link up with any other guys who were serving on the camp at the same time as I was. I was surprised to see it had closed down and now looks nothing like it used too.

    • Alan Hartford says:

      Alan…….your name is familiar and I believe I remember you. I was posted to Upwood straight from Boy Entrant training in April 1960 and left there in April 1961 to go to Akrotiri. I was a Clerk G D and worked in the General Office where my job was “discharges” – the administration involved in discharging servicemen from the RAF. I now live nearby in Warboys. I’d like to have a chat if you feel so inclined.

      • Alan Woodhouse says:

        Hi Alan I was on the camp at the same as you were but I cannot remember your name> I did work with a colleague in the Guardroom with the name of Fred Taylor. Perhaps if we did chat it may help to recall who you are

      • Alan Hartford says:

        You weren’t the snowdrop who wrote off the Vanguard pick up by crashing it into the guardroom pillar were you? I remember a week doing fire picket with one snowdrop driving us around in a land-rover but another one (Mr Nasty) – not you was it??? – hiding behind trees to make sure you passed patrol points at exactly the time specified on the beat card!!! Do remember the delicious bacon rolls from the Sally Ann behind the guard room? My e-mail is alanjames007@tesco.net if you would like to get in touch. Alan

  15. fabien says:

    i am looking for a detail map of the site and more important of the “blue print” of the inside of some fo the building. I am mainly interested in the “hotel” in W shape and the officer mess attach to it.
    Can anybody help?
    please send them to me if you have them: curef99@hotmail.co.uk

  16. Rick Rose says:

    I worked in the Finance Office at RAF Alconbury from Nov 85 to Nov 89 and lived at 21 Cambera Rd on RAF Upwood. I also attended the NCO Academy at RAF Upwood in 1987 and was one of the finalists in the military briefing competition. When I had to give my presentation before the entire class, I was very nervous and lost track of what I was talking about. Someone told me afterwards that unknown to me, I apparently raised my hand and pointed my index finger as if I were shooting myself in the head – and then I began picking up from where I had left off. I really didn’t remember doing that, but there were too many people agreeing with that story that it must have really happened.

  17. terri (york) stoll says:

    Am interested to hear from fellow classmates from the class I attended in 1988. My son recently stationed at RAF Molesworth, has let me know how it looks now at this old place. I had been stationed at Sicily AB, Italy when selected to go the class. Was a memorable time to say the least.

  18. Michael Kiernan says:

    Hi,
    I was at RAF Upwood in Jan. 1962 attending a P.I.s course. At the time I was serving in the Royal Engineers as a Cpl. and passed the course enabling me to fill a posting to Gordon Barracks, Gillingham, Kent. A very interesting course.

  19. Stewart Wilson says:

    Hello I used to drive by that old camp often.
    I noticed that nice looking medical building, I’m ex R A O C 12 years and I know an old ARMY/R A F Camp when I see one,
    it’s the U S A Fire Hydrants on the old Estate that I’m wanting to know about, did they have there own fire trucks on the base,and would the hydrants work with the UK Fire equipment is the medical center still used by the forces it looks quite impressive there is a notice out side. the place looks run down but that medical building looks top notch

    Stewart<

  20. Ray Kilby says:

    Lived in Ramsey most of my life,so know Upwood very well,was there a picture house on the base? i think there was,as my dad was a projectionist there during the war,and he got the nick name FLICK for obvious reasons,he also worked at the grand in ramsey as well.He met and married a girl called Margaret Holmes,a Liverpudlian,who was in the WRAF, stationed at Upwood,and worked in the ops room.Any one remember them?.

    • Peter Snook says:

      Hi Ray
      There certainly was a camp cinema on the site. The rushes
      from the film “Appointment in London” were shown in there
      in 1952 when filming finished. I was an Instrument Mechanic
      on 148sqdn there from Feb1952 to mid 1954 when I was posted
      to Luqa-Malta.
      Any help?
      Pete Snook.

  21. Peter Richards says:

    Sad to see these images. My grandfather was based there in 1974, so was my wife’s uncle in the mid 1960’s.

  22. mike tallis says:

    trying to contact anyone who was at upwood from 1940 and knew a Sgt Ivan John Green from 214 Sqn

  23. mary hotchkin nee sewell says:

    hi was wondering if anybody out there has some pictures of the big house called upwood house in its hey day. the reason i ask is that my grandparents venimore and christine sewell farmed the land before the war and my dad grew up there. he passed away in 2000 but i did get to take him back in the late 80’s for a look around but didnt take any pictures and i would love some to pass on to my boys. the only information i have is that they lived there till the late 30’s and due to money problems had to leave my grandad and his brother also owned the mill in the center of ramsey (now flats) and my great grandparents ran the pub as well as being genteleman farmers. hope you can help thanks for reading this.

  24. Ron Smith says:

    Served in MT section RAF Coningsby,1946 to 1949, RAF Upwood 1949 until demob in 1952. I married an Irish girl from N.A.F.F.I and stayed at Upwood as a civilian driver, and refueled Lincolns until 1955, with civilians from Ramsey, Jack stud, Mr Warrick, Ollie Buddle,Bill Goss,George Woodruff. Les Goss, from Ramsey was a friend I kept in touch with. I emigrated to Canada in 1955, and still here,near Toronto. Married 60 yrs now. Would be nice to hear from someone from those days.

  25. Gordon Hubbleday says:

    I was stationed at R A F Upwood from January 1954 to January 1957
    Bat/waiter rank L A C i was most of the time as a batman in Officers Mess very sorry
    to see the way the camp is now i have many happy times there

  26. Jim Thomas says:

    Hello all, I was at Upwood when the American Air Force had the NCO Academy there. It’s truely a shame as to what’s happened to that beautiful place!

  27. Rosie says:

    I was looking at going here at the weekend. Do you know how I would get access for taking pictures here? Would I just be able to go straight in?

  28. Paul says:

    I was a military dependent taking college classes at night and I worked during the day at the Upwood Rec Center. I worked in the Pathfinder Grill (the room with all the bright green trim) as a cook in 1987/88.

    Its sad to see what has happened to RAF Upwood and the Rec Center. My family and friends had so many good memories there. From Christmas parties to Karate lessons to playing snooker or just having a beer in the bar, the Rec Center served us well.

    The picture of the room with a child’s scooter was the main recreation hall. It contained pool and snooker tables. You could even watch the video jukebox featuring Bon Jovi, Pet Shop Boys or maybe The Cure.

    I don’t know how many hours we spent in the Rec Center but it was a lot! I miss it.

  29. Paul Kitko says:

    We lived at 17 Valiant Square from 1987 until 1990. As an Air Force dependent I worked as a cook at the Upwood Rec Center during the day (the restaurant was called “The Pathfinder”). I think I walked more times between Valiant Square and the Upwood Rec Center than I could possibly count. I would take the Upwood shuttle bus to RAF Alconbury in the evenings so I could take classes for my degree.
    We had such a great time at the Upwood Rec Center! All the families from the base would hang out there, play pool, watch videos or have a beer in the bar. Music by The Cure, Bon Jovi or the Pet Shop Boys was usually playing on the video jukebox. I remember one year we had a New Year’s Eve party with a Reggae band! There’s not much I wouldn’t give to go back in time and hang out there for a day with my old friends.
    I don’t how the MOD could have let RAF Upwood fall apart like this, it’s such a waste.

  30. I was stationed at up wood 56/58 then on to raf tangah in Singapore had a look at pics of the base now. how sad to see it in this state I was on 35sqd when we got the colours I still have pics from that time a lot of rag camps have gone that way with a lot of owner history with it so v v sad

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