Wargrave WW2 Shadow Factory & Armed Forces HQ, Henley On Thames - Oxfordshire

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callumcrom00

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Built as a WWII shadow factory, which manufactured aircraft components.

At one time it was the AFHQ for London.

The bunker is currently being used for archive storage.

The Underground Factory ran by Sir George Godfrey and Partners making hydraulics and gearbox assemblies for the Phillips Master trainer. 30'000 sq ft of manufacturing space. Surface buildings ran as a private engineering works until early 1980's. Underground space became a covert Army Communication Centre during Cold War.

The Wargrave Road, Henley site, I believe it was tied in as a aircraft factory with Vincent's Motor Works on Station Road in Reading. Where the subways and underground space were used to make parts which were then sent to this place for assembly.

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Main Entrance
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Other Entrance
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Main Entrance in 1995 (Credit: Keith Ward)
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One of the corridors inside taken in 1995 (Credit: Keith Ward)
 
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night crawler

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Vincents used to beuild an repair Spitfires in WWII. I remember the place from when I was at school seeing the showrooms full of BMC cars. The road that lead to the lower levels is Gerrard street and used as a taxi rank. I'd love to have seen inside the place. I never knew what happend there till recent years
This link shows how I remember the station and Vincents as a kid and also shows the demolition of the showrooms
Never knew of the shadow factory at Henley either
 

Hayman

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Built as a WWII shadow factory, which manufactured aircraft components.

At one time it was the AFHQ for London.

The bunker is currently being used for archive storage.

The Underground Factory ran by Sir George Godfrey and Partners making hydraulics and gearbox assemblies for the Phillips Master trainer. 30'000 sq ft of manufacturing space. Surface buildings ran as a private engineering works until early 1980's. Underground space became a covert Army Communication Centre during Cold War.

The Wargrave Road, Henley site, I believe it was tied in as a aircraft factory with Vincent's Motor Works on Station Road in Reading. Where the subways and underground space were used to make parts which were then sent to this place for assembly.

View attachment 516946
Main Entrance
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Other Entrance
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Main Entrance in 1995 (Credit: Keith Ward)
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One of the corridors inside taken in 1995 (Credit: Keith Ward)
What was the Phillips Master trainer?
 

Dirus_Strictus

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What was the Phillips Master trainer?
If memory serves, it was a Ground Based aircraft fuselage that allowed a trainee pilot with absolutely no aircraft experience at all, to practise the fundamentals of Bank and Turn. No chance of instructors or airworthy aircraft being killed or destroyed, whilst one gained fundamental knowledge - I think the Link Trainer was another type of basic training device also.
 

Hayman

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If memory serves, it was a Ground Based aircraft fuselage that allowed a trainee pilot with absolutely no aircraft experience at all, to practise the fundamentals of Bank and Turn. No chance of instructors or airworthy aircraft being killed or destroyed, whilst one gained fundamental knowledge - I think the Link Trainer was another type of basic training device also.
Many thanks for the info. Yes, a lot safer - and cheaper - than the real thing.
 

RobbyJ

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I stumbled across this page and registered. Thanks for the pics, I used to explore this place loads in the 90's when it still had the telephone exchange, some maps, signage, beds, a safe etc. Thanks for the pics, great to see the place again.

I have some plans of the place somewhere that I'll try to find and upload.

Just one question as I remember the place really well. The photo with the documents being stored looks more like Warren Row rather than Henley/Wargrave, could I be right?
 

RobbyJ

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From memory (a long time ago) I can add some detail to some of the letters in the first map I posted.

X/Z - Electrical rooms with big transformers
Y - Air conditioning/boiler room
R/T - Was a big metal turntable you could turn a vehicle round on so it could drive back out of the entrance tunnel
E/T - Is the emergency exit. A long 100-150M upward sloping tunnel that leads to the exit in the 2nd photo at the start of the thread
Bay 1/2 - I think were full of beds, bedside tables and some storage cabinets
G - Looked like the office for whoever the commander of the site was. Had a big desk and a big locked safe
H - Bedroom with a double bed for the commander
Briefing Room - Big planning room with lots of desks, bakerlite phones and a huge OS map on the end walls

The thing I never understood in retrospect was how the air system worked, it looked like a closed loop with no external vent shafts that I ever found despite walking the entire hill above the site. I also couldn't find any antennas or mountings of where antennas may have been.

There was an over ground facility that was about 50-75 years from the emergency exit where the big house that you can see on Google Maps now is. This had quite a large medical facility with quite a lot of beds, circa 20. It's also where the cafeteria area was with quite a big kitchen. There were no obvious cooking facilities underground. It's weird that there were significant sleeping facilities, toilets etc yet no eating facilities, no real storage, water storage or air filtration, no gas tight doors or anything apparently that could maintain an overpressure like a real bunker. I guess the beds must have been there more for training purposes to simulate what it would have been like while running exercises?
 

night crawler

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I went to school in Wargrave and never knew this place existed (Hardly surprising really as it was the Cold War at the time!) I also just about remember Vincents in Reading.
You remember Vincent's then you are old like me because it was demolished in the late 1960's
 

RobbyJ

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I stumbled across this page and registered. Thanks for the pics, I used to explore this place loads in the 90's when it still had the telephone exchange, some maps, signage, beds, a safe etc. Thanks for the pics, great to see the place again.

I have some plans of the place somewhere that I'll try to find and upload.

Just one question as I remember the place really well. The photo with the documents being stored looks more like Warren Row rather than Henley/Wargrave, could I be right?
Actually looking at that photo of the interior again, that is Henley. That's the main entrance tunnel. I'm just surprised to see they are using that for storage too. That stair case on the left leads to the little guard room above and to the left of the main entrance.

The site must be absolutely bursting at the seams if they have to fill the entrance tunnel with docs too. That makes getting boxes to the far end of the tunnels quite a manual exercise.
 

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