Photo by Keith Ward
Very large RAF airfield and USAF PX warehouse. Now leased partly as industrial units.
[Keith Ward 1998/09/15]
The base has been massively reduced, indeed may now be completely shut. The storage facilities are being leased and much of the land has been used for domestic housing. Other land is being offered for industrial development.
The original RAF airbase from WW2 still has its old hangars visible from the M62 motorway (just after junction 9 on the way to Liverpool). In fact the motorway bisects the site and closed the old runway. It has been said that the RAF planned to use the motorway as a runway in the event of a crisis. I would love to know what a pilot thinks of this as the motorway at this point is by no means straight!
[Dr. Neil Carmichael 1999/02/11]
The USAF and RAF base closed about eight years ago and the site was sold off to a private developer. It was the largest storage facility in the UK for the USAF, and was the largest covered storage facility in Europe. Now being sold off for factories and housing etc.
The runways and base closed many years before this, and the motorway goes along the middle of the site. The control tower and main hangars remained there for many years but were finally demolished about 15 years ago, leaving just a spattering of small hangars and field shelters around the site to the north of the motorway. These are used by industrial and storage users and farmers now.
The motorway theory for landing is not correct: the site is intersected by services and bridges and any landing would be impossible. Also the flying base had closed even before the motorway was built. Any emergency landing could have been carried out at either Manchester or Liverpool - only a few minutes flying away. (The Liverpool runway was enlarged and re-sited for larger aircraft.)
Burtonwood had an amazing history and during WWII literally hundreds of bombers were stored there. Now the site is mostly closed down and derelict, and there has not been any service presence there for many years. The final vestiges of the USAF closed down the storage and pulled out about eight years ago.
[Dr. James Fox 1999/02/21]
I visited the Burtonwood depot on an open day in June 1989. At that time it was under the control of the 47th US Army Area support group and was their major Army storage facility in the UK.
The site had 4,800,000 ft2 of continuous covered storage space. Much of the site was off limits on the open day, but there was still plenty to see. The warehouses were piled high with thousands of boxes containing NBC equipment, clothing, boots, hats/helmets, even pyjamas. There were vast stocks of military medical equipment including large `containers' which fitted together to make complete air conditioned field hospitals (`Depmeds'). One warehouse area was full of US Army rations `MRE' (meal ready to eat). Staff told me that approximately 5,000,000 were held at any one time, and that in a European war that amount would last ten days.
The complex contained row after row of Army vehicles which were periodically checked and re-stored. Outside there were vast quantities of oils and lubricants. I noted 500 water bowsers and the same number of ammunition trailers.
The theory was that in a time of potential war with the Warsaw Pact, US Army personnel would be transported over to the UK, pick up their kit from Burtonwood, and then go to the UK east coast ports for transit to the European front.
Like most US sites it was given the prefix `RAF' and did indeed have a small RAF liaison staff on site, but this was wholly a US Army facility on a monster scale!
Here are some photos taken on that visit. Although the site is now as good as closed they may be of interest.
[Russ Parrish 1999/10/30]
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Last updated 31st October 1999
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