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The Historic Environment Record is the primary index about the physical remains of past human activity in the unitary authority of West Berkshire. Not all records are published on the Heritage Gateway. Please read the important guidance on the use of the West Berkshire HER data.



HER Number MWB6570
Record Type Monument
Name Greenham Common Airbase (RAF Greenham Common)

Grid Reference SU 502 646
Map Sheet SU56SW
Parish Greenham, West Berkshire
Thatcham, West Berkshire
Map:Show location on Streetmap

Summary

Airbase used by RAF from 1941 and USAF 1951-1992; internationally famous during Cold War

Associated Legal Designations or Protected Status

  • SHINE: Structures, above- and below-ground remains of Greenham Common Airbase (RAF Greenham Common) used by RAF from 1941 and USAF 1951-1992

Other Statuses and Cross-References

  • Berkshire SMR No. (pre 2000): 01496.01.000
  • National Monuments Record No.: SU 56 SW 15
    SU 5000 6473

Monument Type(s):

  • MILITARY AIRFIELD (Second World War to Late 20th century - Present - 1941 AD to 1991 AD)
  • MILITARY BASE (Second World War to Late 20th century - Present - 1941 AD to 1994 AD)

Full Description

1939 LAND BOUGHT FROM GREENHAM LODGE ESTATE, OPENED AS AIRBASE 1941 AS SATELLITE TO RAF ALDERMASTON. 3 RUNWAYS & NUMEROUS STRUCTURES EG HANGARS, WAREHOUSES, ACCOMMODATION BUILT. USED THROUGH WWII. 1951 MAJOR REBUILD UNDER USAF WITH SINGLE E-W RUNWAY, 10000 FT LONG. ADDITIONS AND UPDATING OF COMPLEX CONTINUED 1980s DURING COLD WAR. USAF LEFT 1992. BASE RETURNEDTO CIVILIAN CONTROL 1997, COMMONS OPENED TO PUBLIC 2000.

The area defined on the GIS is the extent of the fenced airbase on OS mapping epoch 7 (1:10000) <21>. The Berkshire National Mapping Programme <8>, however, recorded features alongside the northern edge of the runway which probably predated this fence.

The site was long and narrow making it suitable for a standard 2,000 yard east-west main runway which was later almost doubled in length. Further runways, 1,400 yards and 1,100 yards were also constructed. Only two T.2 hangars were built and the technical site in the south-east corner was small. The bomb dump was located in the north-east corner. The airfield was allocated to the USAAF 51st Troop Carrier Wing [TCW] before completion. The RAF took over briefly in 1943, but the USAAF once again took over in October 1943. A number of fighter units had brief stays at the base. On D-Day the 438th TCG towed 50 gliders to Normandy for which it received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions. During Operation Market Garden the Group towed almost 200 gliders to the operation area. At the end of the war the base returned to the RAF until it was closed on 1 Jun 1946. In 1951, during the Cold War, Greenham Common became a deployment base for the Strategic Air Command. This meant a major rebuild for the east-west airfield which was then extended to 10,000 feet. In the late 1960s it was designated as a NATO reinforcement base and in the 1980s it became a storage area for cruise missiles, until the collapse of the Warsaw Pact in the late 1980s. In 1992 the airfield was declared redundant and was acquired by the Greenham Common Trust in 1997 <22>. The technical base became a business park. Much of the airfield was reopened to the public as common land on 08/04/2000.

There is a large body of literature and online resources (for example the 2003 website <7>) on Greenham Common, including its occupation prior to its military use, the air base and the peace camp protests during the Cold War era. There have been several surveys of its buildings <3><16><25> and earthworks and other structures <30>, and assessments of its significance <11><27>, leading to designation of the GAMA complex as a scheduled monument, and the listing of several buildings including the Control Tower.

West Berkshire Museum has a set of photographs showing the glider assembly facility at the eastern end of the airfield (i.e. Crookham Common) in 1944; a set of oblique aerial photographs showing the common in 1996; and a set of photographs showing the demolition of the US barracks <35>.

British Pathe has a film of a gyrocopter flight in 1970, apparently over Greenham Common <36>.

Sources and further reading

<01a>Air Ministry. 1945. Greenham Common - Record Site Plan, Site No 1 Airfield. Dwg No 4817/44. 1:2500. [Map / SWB13060]
<01b>Air Ministry. 1945. Greenham Common - Record Site Plan, Dispersed Sites. Dwg No 4818/44. 1:2500. [Map / SWB13061]
<02>Department of the Air Force. 06/09/1988. RAF Greenham Common - Record Site Plan. S 77/89. 1:5000. [Map / SWB14709]
<03>RCHME. 1994. Historic Building Report: Greenham Common Airbase, Greenham, Berkshire. NBR No 93234. [Unpublished document / SWB12267]
<04>Brooks, R J. 2000. Thames Valley Airfields in the Second World War - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Middlesex. p58-64. [Monograph / SWB12930]
<05>Kippin, J et al. 2001. Cold War Pastoral, Greenham Common. [Monograph / SWB14041]
<06>Spencer, L B. 2002. History of the 26th Mobile Reclamation and Repair Squad (Heavy) - Crookham Common, England 1943-1945. [Monograph / SWB14033]
<07>Hawkings, D. 2003. Greenham: a common inheritance. http://www.greenham-common.org.uk. Accessed 20/03/2008. [Website / SWB13700]
http://www.greenham-common.org.uk (Accessed 11/01/2012)
<08>RCHME. Berkshire - National Mapping Programme. [Unpublished document / SWB146801]
<10>Blackwood, C. 1984. On the Perimeter. [Monograph / SWB146804]
<11>Cocroft, W. 2000. Former RAF Greenham Common. [Unpublished document / SWB12876]
<12>2000. World Archaeology: Queer Archaeologies Vol 32, Issue 2. Vol 32, Issue 2. 10.1080/00438240050131216. p236-251 The queer archaeology of Green Gate... by John Schofield & Mike Anderton. [Article in serial / SWB146803]
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00438240050131216 (Accessed 10/09/2014)
<13>Klempa, M. 2001. Place, identity and symbolism - a ... study of the evolution and management of Greenham Common's landscape.... [Unpublished document / SWB146797]
<14>CgMs. Sep-02. Description and Analysis - Building 303 and additional structures, New Greenham Park, Greenham Common, Berkshire. Report Ref JL/3043. [Unpublished document / SWB13724]
<15>CgMs. Jan-02. Description and Analysis - Building 275 Vehicle Maintenance Facility, Greenham Common, Berkshire. Report Ref JL/2290. [Unpublished document / SWB13716]
<16>CgMs. 2006. Historic Building Record in respect of Former RAF/USAF Greenham Common Base, New Greenham Park, Near Newbury, Berkshire. CgMs Ref IF/JL 4020. 2018 WBC Network. [Unpublished document / SWB14710]
<17>Sayers, J J. 2006. In Defense (sic) of Freedom; A History of RAF Greenham Common. www.lulu.com ID 310488. [Unpublished document / SWB146796]
<18>English Heritage. 2007. Images of Change. An Archaeology of England's Contemporary Landscape. pp 65-67 & 94-95. [Monograph / SWB147255]
<19>Beck, C, Drollinger, H & Schofield, J. 2006?. Alternative archaeologies of the Cold War: the preliminary results of fieldwork at the Greenham and Nevada peace camps. [Article in monograph / SWB146805]
<19>Schofield, J and Cocroft, W. 2007. A Fearsome Heritage: Diverse Legacies of the Cold War. p129-144 Greenham Common: the conservation and management of a Cold War archetype by V Fiorato. [Monograph / SWB148116]
<20>English Heritage. 2007. Images of Change. An Archaeology of England's Contemporary Landscape. [Monograph / SWB147255]
<21>Ordnance Survey. c. 1980. Ordnance Survey Epoch 7. 1:10560. [Map / SWB14666]
<22>Delve, K. 2007. The Military Airfields of Britain - Northern Home Counties. p 138-142. [Monograph / SWB147585]
<23>Willis, S and Holliss, B. 1987. Military airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945. P94. [Monograph / SWB147392]
<24>Harford, B and Hopkins, S (ed). 1984. Greenham Common: Women at the Wire. [Monograph / SWB148181]
<25>Historic England (previously English Heritage). ?-present. NMR Buildings Files on Historic England Archive. BF093234. [Index / SWB147173]
https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/photos/ (Accessed 21/04/2020)
<26>Orr, S. 2000. Greenham & Crookham Commons - Historical Research Commission. [Unpublished document / SWB147472]
<27>English Heritage. 2001. Cold War Monuments: an assessment by the Monuments Protection Programme. 2016 WBC Network. [Unpublished document / SWB147883]
<28>Cocroft, W and Thomas, R J C. 2003. Cold War - Building for Nuclear Confrontation 1946-1989. p53-7, 60-1, 75-81, 83. [Monograph / SWB14711]
<29>Fairhall, D. 2006. Common ground - The story of Greenham. [Monograph / SWB147738]
<30>Berkshire Archaeological Services. 2011. Historical Environmental Survey and Management Plan for Greenham and Crookham Commons. online. [Unpublished document / SWB148355]
http://www.westcombe.org.uk/appindex.html (Accessed 07/09/2015)
<31>2014. American Air Museum in Britain. www.americanairmuseum.com. Place No 486. [Website / SWB148789]
http://www.americanairmuseum.com/ (Accessed 09/05/2016)
<32>Cartographical Services (Southampton) Ltd. 02/03/1977. UAgII 3023 153,05 6341. Aerial Photo. 1:6000. [Photograph / SWB148822]
<33>Francis, P, Flagg, R and Crisp, G. 2016. Nine Thousand Miles of Concrete - A Review of Second World War Temporary Airfields in England. online. [Unpublished document / SWB148958]
https://historicengland.org.uk/images-books/publications/nine-thousand-miles-of-concrete/ (Accessed 01/02/2016)
<34>USAAF 7th Photographic Reconnaissance Group. 02/12/1943. US/7PH/GP/LOC90. Aerial Photo. [Photograph / SWB149369]
http://www.americanairmuseum.com/sites/default/files/eh/eh-279.jpg (Accessed 14/02/2018)
<35>Newbury Museum Accession Records (West Berkshire Museum since 1998). NEBYM:1998.23.1-32; 2000.33.1-17; 2007.18.1-2; 2017.25.1-60. [Unpublished document / SWB14452]
<36>1896-1978. British Pathe historical collection. https://www.britishpathe.com/video/gyrocopter. [Projected and video material / SWB149451]
https://www.britishpathe.com/ (Accessed 01/08/2018)

Related Monuments

MWB16501Bowdown World War II Bomb Stores, Greenham Common (Monument)
MWB21827Building 106, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB21829Building 109, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB21828Building 110, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB21830Building 113, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB16243Building 134, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB16245Building 139, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB16246Building 140, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB16247Building 163, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB21834Building 165, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB16248Building 166, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB16249Building 167, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB21831Building 195, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB22236Building 280, Greenham Common (Building)
MWB21832Building 300, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB21824Building 80, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB21825Building 81, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB21826Building 82, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB21833Building 86, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB15799Combat Support Company Building 273, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB15801Control Tower Building 146, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB20643Fire plane, RAF Greenham Common (Monument)
MWB15804GAMA - Cruise Missile Shelter Complex, Greenham Common airbase (Monument)
MWB16241Hangar Building 302, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB16502Limberlost Bomb Stores, Crookham Common (Monument)
MWB15803Missile Launchers Vehicle Maintenance Building 275, Greenham Common airbase (Monument)
MWB22090Petroleum Oil Lubricant (POL) Tank 21, RAF Greenham Common Airbase (Monument)
MWB21899RAF Greenham Common Dispersed Site 2, Communal Site 1 (Monument)
MWB17568Runway, Greenham Common airbase (Monument)
MWB16242Site of Hangar Building 301, Greenham Common airbase (Monument)
MWB15802Site of Hangar Building 303, Greenham Common airbase (Monument)
MWB20613The Old Chapel, Building 188, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB16244Water tanks 135 & 136, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB15800Wing Headquarters Building 274, Greenham Common airbase (Building)
MWB15864Aldermaston Airfield (Monument)
MWB16503Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) (Monument)
MWB16504Burghfield Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) (Monument)
MWB15827Membury Airfield (World War II) (Monument)
MWB22247Nissen Huts, Limberlost Farm, Greenham Common (Building)
MWB15916RAF Welford (Monument)

Associated Excavations and Fieldwork

EWB1121Cold War Monuments: an assessment by the Monuments Protection Programme
EWB157Greenham Common Site Visit 2000 - Bury's Bank
EWB272WBHS Monitoring 2001-2002
EWB37Former Greenham Common Airbase (Ref: GCB96/61)
EWB533Description and Analysis - Building 275 Vehicle Maintenance Facility, Greenham Common, Berkshire (Ref: Report Ref JL/2290)
EWB541Description and Analysis - Building 303 and additional structures, New Greenham Park, Greenham Common, Berkshire (Ref: Report Ref JL/3043)
EWB858Historic Building Report: Greenham Common Airbase, Greenham, Berkshire (Ref: NBR No 93234)
EWB884Historic Building Record in respect of Former RAF/USAF Greenham Common Base, New Greenham Park (Ref: IF/JL 4020)
EWB885Berkshire - National Mapping Programme (Ref: 1064614)
EWB1415Berkshire County Council/Babtie general monitoring
EWB1157Hampshire ALSF - National Mapping Programme (Ref: English Heritage Project Number 4766)