Built in 1941, this air base was joint used by the RAF and the US Air Force during the Cold War. It was closed in 1991 and the buildings were demolished and the roads and runway were dug up and allowed to grow over into heathland once more. There is a cluster of original buildings (the bomb silos and some buildings in the business park) that still stand. The six large missile silos are the most noticeable structures still left, aside from the control tower which is now a cafe, and they were used in the filming of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. They are surrounded by four fences ranging from 10ft tall to well over 15ft, so access is bloody hard to say the least!
In May 2020 when ‘Rona was calming down somewhat, I went on a cycle ride (having been at home due to university being forced to close) up to the site, as I lived very close by. I’ve explored these about three or four times in the past but only got inside the GAMA site and the top of the silos, never into the bunkers underneath – that is a goal I want to achieve…! The compound is now used as a car storage depot by a company so I knew I had to be careful about security. Millions of quids worth of cars HAD to be guarded. And it was… lol. Within about ten minutes of my accessing the site, I was down in the GAMA site (underground bomb silos) and I heard an engine motoring around. So I dived straight into some brambles and hid. Not two minutes later, a big security van drove past slowly. I didn’t know if he was patrolling or looking for me, but I didn’t see any sensors or cameras so I hoped he was just patrolling. I stayed hidden for about twenty minutes before emerging and spending the next ten minutes pulling thorns out of my jeans and shirt and socks and shoes… not fun! So, after that I decided to head to the main silos, keeping to the bushes. I was almost at the silos and then I once again heard the van. So back into some brambles I went! Security drove past again, and afterwards I picked out the next batch of thorns, with a hint of annoyance. The next hour or so was not interrupted by security at all, but I had to stay alert for two reasons – security and also the exposed fenceline at the front where walkers/cyclists could see right into the compound. I didn’t have my high vis vest with me so I’d have looked out of place. The rest of the time went smoothly, until I heard security doing another patrol. I was right at the bunkers with no cover in sight apart from climbing up the bank of a silo and laying down on the top. So that’s what I did. Security drove around each silo and then went back to the caravan he was occupying near the front. From up on the top of the silo I had a magnificent view of the surrounding landscape, all the way to Watership Down and the Hannington Mast to the south. Really very nice… until I felt a tick trying to dig into my arm. Joy oh bloody joy. After that, I headed back down and went to the original gateway of the compound to photograph that. It was interesting – there was a turnstile covered in green moss. Would have made for a fantastic infrared photograph! After finishing up there, I decided to head home. I began making my cautious way out of the site when, in the distance, I saw security razzing down a road at the very end of the site towards my location. I was certain he’d seen me so I dived into cover… this time in gorse. He drove past again VERY slowly and stopped about twenty feet from where I was hidden, got out, walked around for about ten minutes, then got back in and left. I made a quick jog out when I was certain he’d gone. So, I went home covered in cuts and pricks. Great…! Enjoy the photos – a lot of pain went into taking them!