RAF Barnham - Nuclear Storage Site - 25th February 2014
Click to see photos in the Gallery
At 9:00 14 members left Longwater Lane Retail Park and headed for RAF Barnham /Grove Industrial Estate near Thetford. As we passed Snetterton we saw an Apache heading towards Thetford. We arrived at the Industrial Estate at 9:45 and met our guide Keith Eldred who showed us around the old Nuclear Storage site.

This was operational between 1953 and 1963 and is split into 3 areas divided by fences and concrete walls. It had an Outer Support Area used by the RAF Police and Fire Station, an Administration and Inner Support Area and finally the Danger Area used for explosives and Nuclear storage along with maintenance and repairs for the bombs. Today some of the larger buildings are being used for industrial purposes such as garages and these still have the hoists going along the roofs. One building is being used for constructing the watchtower sections which are then placed at the top of the pylons.

As we went round the site some F-15 Eagles flew over. Later we went to the new Visitors Centre where there was a small display of items found on the site. There were also a few panels telling visitors about the wildlife seen here, the history of RAF Barnham and the Blue Danube and Red Beard bombs that were stored here. Work is still being undertaken and is only 75 per cent finished. Another watchtower top is being built to be put on the pylon soon and the Guard Room has to be cleared. In addition, covers from RAF Waddington for the Core Storage Wells are to be fitted.

While here, Keith our guide told us a little about his life and how he and his wife Margot got to buy the land firstly to grow mushrooms and then later set up the preservation of the old base. We gave Keith a Club Mug and thanked him and his wife Margot for a very interesting tour and talk. After signing the Visitors Book some members went to the top of the most complete watchtower near the Guard Room and had a very good view of the area.

We then had our Group photo before getting back in the mini buses. At 12:50 we left and went to Thetford to have lunch at the Bell Inn, which the cast of Dads Army used to go to during filming. We had a look at Pike’s Bar and some of the memorabilia on show at the Bell Inn, but sadly as we had not booked ahead and they had only one person serving food we came away and went to Tesco’s just outside the centre of town for lunch. This was a very interesting tour and thanks go to our drivers and Peter Wood for arranging the trip. Also thanks go to Keith Eldred for our tour and talk. This may lead to a talk at the Club one night sometime in the future. Maybe another trip here at a later date to see the finished heritage site and museum will also be in the offing.

Andrew Elphick

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