Tuesday, 21 August 2012

More on RAF Folkingham

We have been doing a bit more digging around for information on RAF Folkingham. It is really interesting.   On  the 6th of June 1944 (D-Day)  transport aircraft operating as part of Operation Overlord flew from Folkingham to Picauville in France to drop US paratroopers  in an attempt to bolster the Normany landings. 4 aircraft were lost that day and many damaged.

After the war and before the missiles arrived it was actually used as a test track by British Racing Motors (BRM) Formula one team.

When the military finally moved out the land was sold to a local man, one Mr Nelson.  He is now dead but the family business is still run by his sons in the neighbouring village of Kirkby Underwood.  They deal in all kinds of heavy machinery spares.

Simon was talking to our next door, but one, neighbour Richard who has lived in Morton all his life and knows everything.  Seems to be related to most people too!  Sure enough, he used to know Mr Nelson and in fact his own sister is currently married to one of the Nelsons.  He told Simon that there used to be many more vehicles parked up there.  As many as 5000 at one time and it was estimated that there would have been around 20 million tonnes of scrap metal!!!  Simon said the current price of scrap is about £70 a tonne so that gives some idea of the value.  Obviously over the years this has been reduced as they used to take the parts and sell them.  You couldn't do that now as they are too far gone.

The Nelson family were apparently very wealthy and when the railway from Bourne to Sleaford closed he purchased the whole lot including the land. buildings and rolling stock.  Richard said the first thing he did was to remove the tracks.  He had over a million sleepers which he sold.  The rails all went for scrap.  Then he parked diggers and tractors and all kinds of heavy machinery on the land.  According to Richard who can actually remember this as the railway line went through Morton, there were thousands of them. It must have been a very ugly sight.  

At some point he would have made even  more money as the land is now covered in a new private housing estate. I am talking about the land here in Morton. I don't know about other land but that line went quite a long way so there would have been a lot of it.

I have kind of gone off the point here!  According to various websites, when the military departed they left behind the war time bomb dump, and abandoned bomb stores in the forested area to the east.  Plus the 3 Thor missile pads made of reinforced concrete are still in situ as they  were considered uneconomical to remove.

Here are some web photos which are much better than mine!


THEN
NOW 

We spent quite a lot of time on Sunday evening studying the area on Google Earth.  It is fascinating.  We were particularly intrigued by lots of odd shapes in the woods.  They appear to be about car size but you cannot see what they are. We had read that there are more vehicles dumped in the wood so we though that must be what we were seeing.  We could also see 3 distinct triangle shapes along one path which we thought must be the missile bases.

Yesterday we loaded the bikes into the trailer and drove up there to explore the woods.  The area is known as Temple Wood and is managed by the Forestry commission.  There are some clear paths which it is perfectly possible to cycle but the vegetation off the paths is so thick and high that in most places it would be hard to get through.

The woods are really nice and very peaceful but we were disappointed as we couldn't find anything at all except a couple of look out towers and a pile of broken concrete!


We could not see evidence of what we could see on Google Earth.  We did find the triangle shapes but they are just that, there is no evidence of any missile bases so maybe we had made a wrong assumption.  It is really intriguing. We did discover that one path actually comes out right onto the airfield.  There was a big earth moving machine sort of blocking the way but we think that would be to prevent off road cars.  There was nothing to say private property but I guess they wouldn't expect epolpe to come crashing through the woods.
Simon is going to go back one evening with Sam and they will go in that way through the woods.  Simon wants to try and locate what those things are in the woods and find the missile bases as well as check out the "grave yard".

Evie you would LOVE this place.


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