Photo gallery: Inside the long abandoned RAF Sculthorpe

Dead Space picture essay of RAF Sculthorpe Dead Space picture essay of RAF Sculthorpe

Monday, March 24, 2014
1:03 PM

This is the long abandoned RAF Sculthorpe, an air base with an extensive history, entwined with not only the Royal Air Force but also the USAF.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Dead Space picture essay of RAF SculthorpeDead Space picture essay of RAF Sculthorpe

When the Cold War ended the base became inactive, whilst the airstrip still remains in military hands and is regularly used by the USAF 352nd Special Operations Group, the quarters, messes and admin buildings (the heart and lungs of the place) have been abandoned to mother nature, left to decay together with the stories of those that inhabited them.

I have visited this place before, but never really spent any time looking, feeling, imagining what had gone on here and the people who had transited this place during the height of the Second World War and latterly the Cold War with the Soviet Union. So, one Tuesday morning, on the spur of the moment, I got in my car and made the short drive to the site, just to explore and take photographs and imagine what had been.

From order to disorder

Dead Space picture essay of RAF SculthorpeDead Space picture essay of RAF Sculthorpe

The first thing that strikes you as you walk onto the site is not just the vastness of it, but the eerie silence, even in daytime there are areas of the buildings that not only look foreboding, but that actually send a shiver down the spine. Of course the place is still inhabited, but not by humans, these days it’s wildlife; owls, rats, stoats, rabbits and of course pigeons, amongst others. Brambles encroach through windows like spindly hands and it’s almost as if nature is reclaiming the land for it’s own once more.

Inside out and outside in

Outwardly the buildings look like shells, but step inside (with your sturdy boots of course) and you will find plenty of character still remains, as well as the remnants of a creche, there are textures and muted colours all over the place, there are of course signs of more recent additions in the form of graffiti tags but they take nothing away from the faded glory of the surroundings. It’s odd to think that once these buildings and grounds would have been absolutely pristine, personally, I kind of prefer it this way.

RAF Sculthorpe

RAF Sculthorpe has been home to many visiting airmen and support crews and was, at one point, the biggest Atomic bomber base in Europe.

Situated three miles west of Fakenham, the base was built for the Royal Air Force for use in World War Two.

It was built up for US Air Force use and was the biggest operational airfield in the UK by 1957, carrying 10,000 personnel and, for a period, the biggest Atomic bomber base in Europe.

The airstrip is said to be one of the longest heated airstrips in the world.

To a certain extent the base was quite secret, its position on top of a hill meaning that very little can be seen from outside.

The base was active during the Second World War and the Cold War.

The US Air Force deployed to Sculthorpe during the Berlin Crisis in 1949 and then, in 1952, it became home for the 47th Bombardment Wing, who were to stay for a decade.

In 1963 Project Clearwater halted large scale rotational bomber deployments to Britain, and RAF Fairford, RAF Chelveston, RAF Greenham Common, and RAF Sculthorpe were returned to the Air Ministry.

The base became inactive at the end of the Cold War.

Much of the associated housing and most other buildings have now been sold off by the military. The US quarters have been extensively refurbished and now form a new village called Wicken Green. The airstrip area remains in military hands, officially as an army helicopter training area.

Beautiful decay

For me this is where the real beauty lies, beauty in the decay. As the buildings are exposed to the elements they are constantly changing, evolving, it is a reflection of our own life cycle as humans. Created as new, growing in to it’s prime before it’s use is exhausted, when it is then left to grow old, changing, ageing, until at some point it simply ceases to be.

For more on Steve Hunt’s work log on to www.stevehuntphoto.org

8 comments

  • I visited RAF Scunthorpe many times when my friends Dad was stationed there. It was just like a large town and had everything that families needed. I am sure this guy should not be wandering around the site though .... He is trespassing and I don't think that's right.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • No runway removal will ever happen at Sculthorpe. It's very easily re-activated if required. The "Main" runway is in excellent condition and at 10,000ft long is VERY useful.

    Report this comment

    Fuzzy_99

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • No runway removal will ever happen at Sculthorpe. It's very easily re-activated if required. The "Main" runway is in excellent condition and at 10,000ft long is VERY useful.

    Report this comment

    Fuzzy_99

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • Must admit that knowing the runways etc are still occasionally used for exercises etc I had assumed the whole base was mothballed. Obviously wrong. Decided not to send the link to relatives who worked there in USAF days - think they might find it upsetting.

    Report this comment

    Chris Booty

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • is it ok to urban explore the site or is it tresspass?

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • They still use the runway for motorsport. I shall be racing there in July doing top speed runs. The 200mph club will be there also.

    Report this comment

    Lord Elf

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • is it ok to urban explore the site or is it tresspass?

    Report this comment

    KeithS

    Monday, March 24, 2014

  • I feel another runway removal moment coming on!!

    Report this comment

    Sandy.L

    Monday, March 24, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 9°C

min temp: 4°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT