Site Name: RAF Barnham (94 Maintenance Unit) Nuclear Bomb Store (Permanent Ammunition Depot)
Sub Brit site visit 6th November 2003
[Source: Nick Catford]
In the early l950s, the WW2 mustard gas weapons storage depot at Barnham, on the south side of the 94 Maintenance Unit Air Ammunition Park (serving RAF Honington and other airfields), was selected for development as a dedicated storage and maintenance facility for nuclear weapons, in particular for Blue Danube, Britain's first nuclear bomb.
Blue Danube was supplemented with US Mk-5 atomic bombs in 1958, pending the introduction of smaller tactical atomic bombs and strategic megaton weapons.
RAF Barnham closed in the early 1960's and the site was sold by the MOD in 1966 and it now forms the Gorse Industrial Estate. Most of the original buildings are still extant and are let out to various tenants who put them to a variety of light industrial uses. The inner compound has been densely planted with conifers supplementing the lime and poplar trees which were part of the original tree planting programme; it is now difficult to get an overall view of the layout of the buildings.
Photo:One of the two remaining non nuclear storage buildings
Photo by Nick Catford
The weapon storage area consisted of three different types of buildings, 3 large protected blockhouses for the storage of the non-nuclear components, these being the outer bomb casings and the high explosive parts of the bomb. The three stores were arranged around an internal loop road with grassed earth banks along three sides of each building. At the entrance to each store there is an overall roof supported on concrete pillars with a gantry crane for lifting the heavy Blue Danube bombs from the large delivery trucks. Rooms to either side of the entrance housed ventilation plant for the blockhouse. Each rectangular storage blockhouse was 58 metres x 18 metres divided into 11 bays long by 3 bays wide with two internal lines of supporting concrete pillars
Plan of RAF Barnham redrawn from Plan 3001-53 in the RAF Museum
Two of the three storage buildings are still standing, the third was demolished after it was gutted by a fire in the mid 1980's; at the time it was being used by a plastic company. The building immediately opposite the entrance gate faces straight onto the internal loop road while those to the west (now demolished) and east were angled with a cranked concrete canopy. The remaining two canopies have had their metal roof sheets removed as they were beginning to rot and the remaining concrete beams have been wrapped in chicken wire. One of the gantries still retains a hoist although it is unclear if this is original or a later replacement. At Faldingworth the three buildings all face straight on to the loop road.
Internally, the buildings have been altered with new walls being built between the supporting pillars creating a number of individual rooms. Each of the two remaining buildings has a number of different tenants.
Further information and pictures about this site continues here
[Source: Nick Catford]
Last updated 9th November 2003
© 2003 Subterranea Britannica