RAF Saltby, Leicestershire, February 2019

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HughieD

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1. The History
RAF Saltby is an ex-World War II airfield in Leicestershire, located in-between Melton Mowbray and Grantham. Its eastern end pushes it across the border into Lincolnshire by a few hundred metres. It opened in 1941 as a grass strip and surrounding support buildings until a year later when it was up-graded to Class A airfield standards with three converging concrete runways. It was used by both the RAF and the US Army Air Forces with RAF Vickers Wellingtons first to fly out of it. It was used primarily as a transport airfield and closed after the war and kept in reserve until 1955. The ground support station was constructed largely of Nissen huts and included mess facilities, a chapel, hospital and armoury and bombsite storage amongst other buildings. An ammunition dump was located outside of the perimeter track and surrounded by large dirt mounds and concrete storage pens. At its peak it accommodated up to 2100 staff members and boasted five hangars which were used to store 32 Horse gliders in 1943.

On its release from military use in 1955, much of the airfield was returned to agriculture. Today, a large amount of the airfield is intact, including almost the entire main runway remains, utilised by the Buckminster Gliding Club for gliding, motor gliding and glider aerobatics.

2. The Explore
Seem to be on a bit of a WWII roll at the moment. A revisit from when I covered it a few years ago. This former RAF base is pretty much off the radar and few reports crop up. It might be down to the fact it isn’t a spectacular site and the bits that remain are dispersed over quite a large area. A lot of key buildings have been demolished (such as the old control tower) but there’s still enough to hold your attention for a couple of hours or so. I still have vivid memories of when I was a child cycling out to the base and there being more higher-slung buildings still standing than there currently is. The most striking thing about the site today is perhaps the number of intact and pretty pristine stanton shelters dotted over the area.

3. The Photos
Let’s start with the base’s water purification plant. Completely hidden from the road in a coppice in the middle of a field and barely visible from Google Maps, this bit of the base gets overlooked. Nothing amazing but some quite interesting shapes:

46414662584_acc202c2e8_b.jpg img0962 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47086100312_021ef947a7_b.jpg img0959 by HughieDW, on Flickr

32196354357_fd057ac29d_b.jpg img0958 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47086151512_5279527323_b.jpg img0957 by HughieDW, on Flickr

32196399357_e3a20a888f_b.jpg img0955 by HughieDW, on Flickr

40173486853_0b57c8bbd7_b.jpg img0952 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Nature has reclaimed the crumbling red-brick structures:

32196479717_88c520841f_b.jpg img0950 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46224340475_234177cebf_b.jpg img0949 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47138644681_26b5f44fcb_b.jpg img0947 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47086246972_33d77b9d19_b.jpg img0951 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Further up the road is a number of demoed buildings but many Stanton shelters remain:

47138334831_b09e42788f_b.jpg img0965bw by HughieDW, on Flickr

32196273417_b2796023df_b.jpg img0966 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46224035025_981a961ed4_b.jpg img0969 by HughieDW, on Flickr

40173275073_ce293e6f03_b.jpg img0973 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46224003145_f70919a23d_b.jpg img0974 by HughieDW, on Flickr

This one wasn’t quite so lucky:
47085949822_3f33f57b2a_b.jpg img0978 by HughieDW, on Flickr

One of a number of remaining RAF pattern blast shelters:

46414497864_c2395fa8db_b.jpg img0979 by HughieDW, on Flickr

47138174101_2cf9fd73a7_b.jpg img0981 by HughieDW, on Flickr

46414439024_84c102b68d_b.jpg img0985 by HughieDW, on Flickr

An old water tower:

8456347313_e1d0cc8a67_b.jpg img7262_1 by HughieDW, on Flickr

Not too sure what this is:

8457446720_68888f150a_o.jpg img7258_1 by HughieDW, on Flickr

On the inside:

img0988 by HughieDW, on Flickr

More building bases:

47085803522_6ddf2df50a_b.jpg img0989 by HughieDW, on Flickr

…and blast shelters:

47138067081_6e09b19137_b.jpg img0991 by HughieDW, on Flickr

And more Stanton shelters:

8456348429_4c018360a3_b.jpg img7273_1 by HughieDW, on Flickr

8457447904_54ce1c8f38_b.jpg img7268_1 by HughieDW, on Flickr

8622229905_2380f4d469_b.jpg img8631_1 by HughieDW, on Flickr

8622229741_40305f2e2e_b.jpg img8625_1 by HughieDW, on Flickr

8622229423_e3fd8e9925_b.jpg img8624_1 by HughieDW, on Flickr
 
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BikinGlynn

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Very nice, cant beat a bit of ww2 brick porn.
I see the blast shelters at most raf sites, as I right in assuming that they never had a roof but were just a sort of dug out?
 

HughieD

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Very nice, cant beat a bit of ww2 brick porn.
I see the blast shelters at most raf sites, as I right in assuming that they never had a roof but were just a sort of dug out?

Cheers mate - yes - basically roofless trenches to shelter you from any blast rather than a direct hit!
 

Dirus_Strictus

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Really designed to protect from shrapnel and strafing. Keep your head down!

Experience had shown that when roofed blast shelters were constructed; unless you provided a really complicated entrance that directed any outside blast away from the enclosed shelter spaces, the roofed spaces magnified the blast pressure effects on the personnel sheltering there. In leaving them roofless, the blast pressure was allowed to dissipate outwards and upwards into the atmosphere - better a ringing head and a little temporary deafness, than crushed internal organs!
 

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