Sunday 11 March 2012: Upwood Hill House
We ventured out today to get rid of some of the rubbish from the garage. Because the local dump in Peterborough won't let vans in without an appointment (and they then wonder why some people flytip stuff anywhere and everywhere), we have to drive to another dump about 20 miles away. On the way, we drove past the former RAF Upwood airbase. I've passed it many times before but some of the derelict buildings caught my eye today.
This is Upwood Hill House. I didn't know anything about it, so I did a bit of googling this afternoon and found some info on a few sources, including Wikipedia, some sites about derelict buildings, including RAF bases, and Huntingdonshire District Council's planning website.
Upwood Hill House was once owned by a farmer, so I assume it was the farmhouse for the surrounding land, which was requisitioned by the RAF in 1917. RAF Upwood was used for the rest of the first world war and was then returned to the community. Military activity resumed from the mid-30s as part of an RAF expansion and RAF Upwood became the home of aircraft such as the Lancasters. The base remained active until the late 70s but became dormant once again.
In 1981, the United States Air Force took control of the base. It was mostly used to house and support American servicemen at RAF Alconbury some 15 miles away. The RAF took control again in 1995, although the last American service familes did not leave until 2005, when the base again was returned to the Ministry of Defence.
The only military activity there now is at an American medical facility. The residential properties have been renovated and sold on the open market, some of the hangers are used for commercial purposes and Nene Valley Gliding Club uses the old runways. Upwood Hill House itself seems to have been the officers' mess and stood at the top of a crescent driveway facing the road. This and the other old buildings are now derelict and badly vandalised. A developer is trying to obtain planning permission to build residential properties on the land adjoining Upwood Hill House, perhaps even knocking down this old house to do so, which seems rather sad.