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-   -   ARCHIVE: RAF Cranage-Byley, Cheshire - 01 to 08-2005 (http://www.nwex.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2508)

Kitty 17-01-2009 21:23

ARCHIVE: RAF Cranage-Byley, Cheshire - 01 to 08-2005
 
A lovely little airfield built for the second world war, primarily as a school of navigation (Number 7 or 9) and associated airfield for the testing of Vickers Wellingtons medium bombers built close by.

Home to a night fighter squadron during the Blitz to protect Manchester, Liverpool and Chester predominantly, being directly under the main German flight line.

Ended its active service role as an American satellite base in the 50's before closure. Many of the unique buildings were then demolished, and an attempt to destroy the unique air raid shelters was made by Blaster Bates.

The runways, being sommerfeld tracking, we removed after the war, then the M6 motorway was passed through the edge of the site, cutting off where the runways ended.
In the last 3 years permission was given by John bleeding Prescott to allow a gas storage plant in the middle of the site, pumping waste gas direct into the salt strata beneath. This is only there because of a major geological fault line. Experts predict that when it goes bang the explosions will go from Manchester, down through cheshire then curve off into Stoke. Will be one hell of a firework display. :eek:


The main drive into the camp. The concrete bollards are the post supports for the vehicle pool building.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/1774/1003723mu9.jpg

Entrance to one of the bomb shelters. From old plans I know these were evenly spaced between the camp huts. The design of these shelters is unique to this site.
http://img102.imageshack.us/img102/7713/1003733yw1.jpg

Two concrete plinths. unknown what these were for but there were several on the site at the time of visiing in 2005/6. A complete air raid shelter is in the background.
http://img102.imageshack.us/img102/5848/1003734gm5.jpg

One of Blaster bates attempts to demolish a shelter. I understand after this he gave up.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/614/1003738ah5.jpg

The only remaining section of taxiway on the airfield. Also only 50 or so yards from the point where the completed bombers were hauled onto the airfield for flight tests.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/5403/1003745qe3.jpg

Further along this track is the machine gun nest, defendign the control centre for the airfield in case of attack. The CC is one of only about half a dozen left in the country. Unfortunately high water tables means all of these buildings can't be accessed.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/6468/1003751xx1.jpg

The back ground level entrance to the CC. A secondary entrance direct to the viewing tower is on the roof to the right of the tower. Inside a small square hole between the two levels allowed communication quickly, as well as a passage bewteen the two.
http://img212.imageshack.us/img212/3222/1003755sy9.jpg

M6 from the viewing tower.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/2041/1003761iv1.jpg

The Bellman hangar of the Wimpy factory near by, now used as a 24hr logistics depot. The track from the factory to the airfield has long since been lifted. Only change is a new skin. These hangars are BIG
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/5818/1003807kg9.jpg

Two little Nissen Huts on the logistics/factory site. Now home to a small business. if you ask nicely at the entrance security gatehouse, they'll get you permission to go down to these.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/4125/1003809dw9.jpg

The old smithy in Cranage village. The grey tiles on the upper right corner were replacements after an aircraft hit it trying to take off in '42.
http://img102.imageshack.us/img102/9969/1003811ix7.jpg

A smaller Bellman Hanger, used to add all the finishing touches to the Wimpeys before they could be flown. Just next to Cranage primary school.
http://img212.imageshack.us/img212/1309/1003895pg3.jpg

One of about half a dozen pillboxes around the site, but the most easily accessed. Gives a fantastic view of the fields where the runways were if stood on top of. The track, which was a boundary road, is now a dead end track since the M6 went in.
http://img102.imageshack.us/img102/7274/1003910ye8.jpg

The Night Shed, used by Engineers doing final checks on all Wimpeys and nightfighters on the night shift before and after take off. Its lost one end wall as seen here, but basically its complete. At the end of the dead end track, next to the M6 now.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/5694/1003920ma8.jpg

Last but not least a mystery structure. Shaped as a large magnifying glass on the ground, its end is literally the access point off the perimeter road. Three of these are recorded on a plan of the site during the war, however it has yet to be identified. The centre is just a hole filled with crap now, but as it is about 25ft approx across in the circle, it is mooted right now it may be an AA base.
http://img297.imageshack.us/img297/1196/1003938mo4.jpg

And thats the end of the tour. I have many more photos, unfortunately I don't think the main camp area is accessible since the gas storage plant went in. And some of what is shown here may have been bulldozed, however i think most of the shelters are still intact.
If you want to visit the CC please ask for permission at the local farm shop. If asked they don't seem to mind you wandering around.
Please excuse the photos, this was in the days before i got the shiny SLR.


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