Today, parts of the old RAF base at Woodhall Spa make up the Thorpe Camp Visor Centre. However, if you look around the area, there are other hidden remains of the old base.
Before my visit, I found some blog posts and watched some YouTube videos on the derelict parts of the base. However, when I got to Woodhall Spa, some of them have now sadly been demolished (video below).
However, if you know where to look (some locals told me) there are still some buildings that remain.
Thorpe Camp, officially known as the Thorpe Camp Visitor Centre, is part of the former Royal Air Force barracks for RAF Woodhall Spa.
The buildings that today make up the Centre were formerly part of the No.1 Communal Site, which was built in 1940. In 1998, the camp was made into a visitor centre by the Thorpe Camp Preservation Group.
Woodhall Spa and the surrounding area has a long history connected to the RAF. The 97, 619, 617 (Dambusters) and 627 Squadrons were based at RAF Woodhall Spa.
For a more in-depth look around the Thorpe Camp, please watch my video below.
Thanks for reading.
Before you visit, check their website for opening days and times as these have changed due to COVID.
Amongst many other sectors, the heritage sector, especially small independent museums have suffered greatly due to COVID, so it is nice to be able to try and support as many as possible now they are re-opening.
The South Yorkshire Aircraft Museum is quite hidden away at the back of the popular Lakeside area of Doncaster. The buildings once formed part of RAF Doncaster, which the museum took over when they were vacated by Yorkshire Water.
There is loads to see and some great displays. They don’t just have aircraft, they also have lots of other history on the military.
It is definitely worth a visit. Parking is free, there is plenty of space for social distancing and they have put one way systems in place.
Below are a few pictures from my visit. Thanks for reading.
This site is very overgrown, there is a lot of rubbish; an old van, broken caravan and litter. It looks like people have used it as a dumping ground. There are some buildings left but they are pretty trashed and are covered in graffiti. I do not know what the future of the site is. Earlier this year the Sheffield Star published as story which stated that the buildings are to be demolished. However, the future of the site is currently unknown.
It would be nice if the council converted into a park as the site is huge and there are some lovely wildflowers. However, it is prime real estate and I would have thought that Sheffield Council will put houses on it, or sell it for housing eventually. It is in a Green Belt area so maybe that will have some say on what the site will be used for in the future.
There is not a great deal of information online about the site. I assume that the local archive will have more, but with COVID, it is currently closed. The air base began as the No 16 Balloon Training Centre in 1939, and was the home of three squadrons of barrage balloons to fend off attacks.
In 1943, the balloons were transferred to London and Norton was used as a station in the in the Royal Auxiliary Air force Signals Group, concerned mainly with radar & radio equipment, becoming the n°3 Ground Radio Servicing Squadron. This continued until 1965, when under an RAF reorganisation the Squadron was moved to Rutland. RAF Norton officially closed in January 1965.
In the 1970s, the site was owned by the NHS. There were plans to build a third big hospital for Sheffield on the site. However, for whatever reason, this did not happen. I remember learning to drive here as a teenager, I think it was £5 and parents used to take their kids there to practice along the runways. That was in the early 2000s. I believe this ceased as the council felt there were too many health and safety issues. However, as you can see from the pictures, the site is very easily accessible and there were a lot of people milling around, some people on quad bikes, motorbikes, etc. I think it is more of a health and safety hazard now than when it was used as learner driver training.
This was my first time at Cosford Air Show and only my third
air show in total. I must admit, I have
started to really enjoy air shows and I have become increasingly interested in
aviation history and heritage, just from accompanying my partner to museums and
The day before the show I felt a little apprehensive about
the weather. On route to our hotel, we
briefly stopped at the museum. The
weather was wet and cold and I was dreading spending a day outside if it was
going to rain and be miserable. On the
day of the show, there must have been a miracle as the weather was
predominantly dry and sunny, with only small spitting of rain. I was unprepared for sun and ended up getting
sunburnt. Macmillan was giving out free
sun cream samples, I definitely should have got one.
We stayed in nearby Shifnal, at the Park House Hotel. I paid £78 for 2 people bed and breakfast
through ebookers. The hotel was nice and
only a short drive to the air show. My
advice, if you plan to stay here is to bear in mind that breakfast doesn’t
start until 8am on a weekend and the air show opens at 8am. If you plan on getting to the show for
opening, you may have to miss breakfast.
On approach to the show, we followed the yellow signs for
parking. The signs took us to the back
of the base, not to the usual museum entrance.
We arrived at approximately 8.45am and got pretty much in and parked
with no hold up’s. Considering how many
people were attending the show, I was very impressed with the traffic
management. I have read online that some
other people found getting in and out of the show a nightmare, I suppose it
depends on which entrance you use and at what time you were
We paid for entry into the Cosford Club which was £65 each plus a booking fee of £1.50. Standard adult tickets to the show cost £29 and accompanied under 16s are free (based on the 2019 show). The Cosford Club gets you entry into a tent, a programme and a seating area with a view of the central fly line, with chairs and tables provided. If you book the Cosford Club my advice would be to get there early in order to get a table near to the front, especially if you want to take photographs. If you have general admission, the show was packed, again, there are some spaces that offer a clear view of the runway, but you have to get there early if you want to bag one of these.
I thought the show overall was great, but I personally feel
that certain aspects could be improved for next year. The main thing for me is the food
choices. I’m not a big meat eater and I
like to eat relatively healthy when I can.
I felt that the healthy and vegetarian food options were very limited
and if you are a vegan they were non-existent.
The only food stands that I saw were burger, fish and chips and pastie
stands, along with some sweet and cake stands.
I think a wider variety of food outlets would be welcomed, especially
for people that are vegan/vegetarian/ gluten free etc. In the Cosford Club, there was a toastie van,
which I got something from. It was nice,
but a little greasy and definitely not healthy.
Apart from the poor food choices, the only other thing that I was a
little disappointed with was that there was not enough time to look around all
the exhibits as well as watching the entire flying displays. After the flying finished, the grounds
stayed open for another hour and a half-ish, until about 7pm. However, many
trade stands started to pack up after the flying had finished and as there was
so much to see, there wasn’t enough time.
I thought the show had something for everyone and every
age. There was a variety of stands and
exhibits. Some were related to aviation
and others weren’t. There was also a
small fairground and things for children.
If you are considering applying to join the RAF or other British forces,
there are stands where you can find out more information. Also, companies like Rolls-Royce and BAE
systems had a presence at the show.
Some of the static aeroplane exhibits on display had open
cockpits for people to sit in, there were quite large queues for these though. As well as the static displays, other
attractions were the RAF Zone, STEM Hangers, Helicopter flights and the Vintage
Village. More information on these can
be found on the air show website.
Other than the flying displays, I thought the Vintage Village
was the best part. I’m a history lover
so I enjoyed seeing the people dressed up in WWII attire as well as The
Bluebird Belles vocal harmony trio.
As for the flying displays, the Red Arrows were spectacular
as was the Avro Lancaster B1 and the Supermarine Spitfire IX Battle of Britain
Memorial Flight. I also enjoyed seeing the Boeing Chinook HC6. A few of the displays had the added effect of
pyrotechnics which was fun to see.
Overall, I really enjoyed Cosford Air Show and can’t wait
for next year.
The Air Show is an advance ticket only event and it is the Royal Air Force’s only official air show.