RAF Watnall, Nottinghamshire
Visit Date(s): 23/06/07
RAF Watnall was used as the Operational Headquarters of 12 Group, Fighter Command from 1940 to 1946. It was built into a cutting, part of the former Watnall railway station, which closed in 1917. Construction began, in great secrecy, in 1938 and was operational by late 1940 with 12 Gp HQ moving in from nearby Hucknall. Work began on a second filter room in 1941 at Watnall Wharf railway sidings, being completed until 1943. The entire Station itself comprised two sites - the reinforced operations buildings and the accommodation buildings, which were to the east of the main road through Watnall Chaworth.
As a Sector Station, it received information from a variety of sources before passing it out to the Sector airfields under its control. The area of coverage included most of the Midlands, Norfolk, Lincolnshire and North Wales.
At the end of World War 2, the site briefly closed when 12 Group operations moving to RAF Newton. Post-War, 81 Group (Training) Command were present briefly during 1952 before the site was reinstated as part of the ROTOR network. As part of Britain's Cold War defence network, this function continued until being transferred to RAF Neatishead, Norfolk, in 1956. The site was then placed on Care & Maintenance until 1961, when it was disposed of.
Since that time, it was used briefly as the home of the Kimberly Rifle Club in the 1980s. The site has suffered at the hands of vandals, with graffiti, dumping and fires being a problem. In 2010, the site was raided as part of Police operation when it was discovered to be a significant cannabis farm.
Other parts of the area, which include the former ROC huts, now form the Nottinghamshire Weather Centre and the former mess (wartime, Officer's and later Sergeant's) is now occupied by a haulage firm.
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