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Raf Banham. Suffolk. March 2014

Norfolk Explorer

Full Member
Jul 6, 2013
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Nice one to Zyge for sorting out the visit.

This site was unreal when you think of the history of it, and it was nice to get the guided tour around it all. Apart from my little daughter complaining that it is not us fun exploring when you are allowed to be somewhere, it is more fun when you are being naughty.

A good group of us checked this 1 out, some had been before. For me it was my 1st trip. I shot a load on my DSLR and some on the eos 5 with velvia 50. When I get that sorted I will stick them up to.

When my daughter climbed to the top of the restored watch tower, it was great to be told that she was the youngest ever person to be up in there by the owner. So proud of my little explore for that, her 1st proper climb. All that time practicing at home with a ladder and mattress in case she fell had paid off.


Military facilities had existed at Barnham since World War I. During World War II, Barnham had been a chemical weapons storage and filling station for Mustard Gas. During 1953 or 1954, construction began on a high-security RAF bomb store on Thetford Heath. The site was to become known as RAF Barnham and construction was completed in 1955 with the site operational from September 1956.[1] Barnham was constructed as a sister-site to a similar facility constructed a few years before at RAF Faldingworth. Both sites were built to store and maintain free-fall nuclear bombs and Barnham was able to supply the bomber squadrons at Honington, Marham, Watton, Wyton, Upwood and Bassingbourn. Barnham came under the control of the RAF's No. 94 Maintenance Unit.[2]

The operational life of Barnham was relatively short. By the early 1960s this type of storage facility became obsolete as free-fall nuclear bombs were superseded as the weapon of choice, for the British Nuclear Deterrent, by the Blue Steel stand-off missile. The storage and maintenance of nuclear weapons moved to the V bomber airfields. The last nuclear weapons were probably removed from the site by April 1963. The site was sold in 1966, and since that date it has been used as a light industrial estate.[1][2]


The site was built specifically to store and maintain free-fall nuclear bombs, such as Blue Danube. This specific purpose was reflected in the facility's layout: The site was roughly pentagonal in shape. It consisted of three large non-nuclear component stores, surrounded by earthwork banking and a number of smaller storage buildings to hold the fissile cores; the cores were held in stainless steel containers sunk into the ground. The larger buildings stored the bomb casings and the high-explosive elements of the weapons. The smaller stores (known as "Hutches") were constructed to hold the fissile core of the weapons. These hutches were further divided into type 'A' and 'B'. The 'A' type hutches having a single borehole for the storage of Plutonium cores and the 'B' type hutches having a double borehole for storing Cobalt cores. In total, there were 55 hutches giving enough capacity to store 64 fissile cores.[1][2][3]

In addition to the storage buildings, the site consisted of a number of other buildings including a Fire Station, RAF Police flight, Administration block, Mess block, Mechanical Transport Section, Kennels and Workshops. The perimeter of the site was protected by a double system of chain-link fencing and an inner concrete-panel wall; all of which were topped with barbed wire. In 1959, security was enhanced by the building of watch towers around the perimeter.[1][2]

Current use[edit]

RAF Barnham is a satellite station of RAF Honnigton and is used by the RAF Regiment for training. It is used as an accommodation and training venue for the Potential Gunners Acquaintance Course (PGAC).[4] The adjacent MoD Training Area remains the property of the Ministry of Defence, and is still used by the RAF Regiment, as well as the Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Force for training.

The nuclear bomb storage facilities are designated as a scheduled monument by English Heritage. Several buildings on the site have listed building status.[5]


The present main gate of RAF Barnham can be found directly off Bury Road (A134) between Barnham village and Thetford. The entrance to the former nuclear weapons store (now Gorse Industrial Estate) can be found on Elveden Road between Barnham village and the A11.



O.S Friend AAA
Feb 21, 2013
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interesting place, wouildnt mind a walk around there =]




Full Member
Jan 23, 2013
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Enjoyed this report, nice write up and shots :)



Staff member
Forum admin
Dec 16, 2013
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Haha! I'm glad I'm not the only person that read that as you shot your load on your DSLR! Excellent report mate with some super photos, like the look of the place a lot (y)