Royal Air Force Greatworth

962 Signals Unit

Introduction to RAF Greatworth.


Royal Air Force Greatworth served our Nation in peace and war for well over fifty years. Nestling comfortably in the rural Northamptonshire countryside,  this reclusive little RAF Camp played a crucial role in telecommunications throughout World War Two 
as the transmitter site for Bletchley Park, it helped relay much vital correspondence across the world to help orchestrate the war effort. After the war, the demands for its services continued increasingly with the beginnings of the Cold War* and a war it certainly was, the single most expensive conflict ever fought throughout history, with such global influence as to embrace every nation within it's nuclear grasp. During this confrontation between the worlds `superpowers' RAF Greatworth's involvement increased in importance, the extensive aerial complex with numerous caged rhomboidal aerials stretching between tall masts and lofty towers that covered several hundred acres around the countryside with a large modern TX Hall equipped with the best and most powerful transmitters, that could reach out with ease, the far corners of the globe.

 

     RAF Greatworth opened shortly before W.W.2. The huge pre-war nissen type building used for the TX Hall and some smaller ancillary nissen huts were the only buildings, during the war billeting was off site** at Helmdon, the village that provided this service until just after the war ended. After this, the accommodation nissen huts (see the gallery "The early Years 1954"), Ablutions, Mess and Naafi huts were built on the site in a self contained compound. That site is now known and was on the lane west of the TX Hall, towards the Welsh Road. It is shown on an aerial photo that was done shortly after the end of the war.  The CO's house was built a little while after the nissen compound and isn't shown on that photo. Through the years following the war, RAF Greatworth saw extensive modernization, all the nissen buildings and huts disappeared into brick and concrete buildings, only the wooden lattice towers remained unchanged.

     RAF Greatworth eventually closed on November 11th 1988 and the premises were leased to USAF, when it was no longer required, it was handed back to the MOD on 8th February 1992, subsequently the property and it's land were sold into commercial use. The aerial farm was returned back to its pre-war agricultural use for farming and the tall distinctive wooden lattice towers and other masts were felled***. All the old buildings remain and are now Greatworth Business Park. It is now `PRIVATE PROPERTY'. Visitors should respect this when entering the premises. Previous visits by several members have been welcomed by the occupants of the businesses and our reunions made very welcome indeed. It is to be noted that visiting the site's business's should be preceded with an appointment, the acceptance of which would depend on the particular business circumstances at the time of the intended visit.

     If you served at RAF Greatworth as a member of Her Majesty's Armed Forces, or worked here in any capacity, at any time, servicing the functions of this RAF base, or are a local resident to the site, or perhaps an occupant of the present day business park, then you are welcome to join the membership and to enjoy the facilities of this website.

     *Hot Spots of this Cold War were:- The Berlin Air Lift, Korean War, the Suez Crisis, Vietnam War and the Cuban Crisis, The Malaysian Emergency and Konfrontasi. The slow collapse of the British Empire with the often violent seizing of independance by one time colonial dependencies etc. All of which were underwritten with the nuclear arms race and brinkmanship between East and West.

    **Not much is known about the billeting during the war, only one member has commented on this and he stayed with a family in Helmdon village, to the northeast of the camp. All the RAF Personnel at the camp, would have been billeted likewise. Not an uncommon arrangement during wartime on new establishments and detachments.

*** The old concrete bases and counterweights still remain, these are now used to reinforce the hedgerows and fences around the old `aerial farm'. South and close by of the accommodation buildings, are eight concrete bases that were not removed from their place of rest.

Articles and Graphics for publication on this site.

Articles submitted from members are always welcome and can be placed on an individual page in the main site with a title in the top menu. A basic wordproccessor such as wordpad is fine. Some photos may be inserted for effect too.

 We are always looking for more pictures of Greatworth's nissen huts and of the Marconi HS series of Tx, Speedrace's etc. Anything around the camp or village, old pictures by airmen billeting in Helmdon, memorabilia of the wartime years, all very welcome. Hasty snapshots taken on an old box brownie to artistic attempts with your Leica IIIG or Roleiflex 2.8 planar, they are all today's `Mona Lisa's' and just as sought after, now'a'days.

The number of photographs that have been `uploaded' onto our gallery, is amazing. I could not have imagined that this quantity of pictures existed, This gallery of ours is well worth compiling into an album c/w comments and I may well attempt to do that this year (2013). Please don't stop!!

Artistic reconstruction by Stu Cook. illustrating the Camp's Signboard. There is a photo of the front gate on this site, this shows the sign board as it would be remembered, it is the only photo we have, unless somebody comes up with another? (hint hint)

 

SWB 11

RAF Greatworth 962 Signals Unit. 1939-1988."When we were young, We shone like the sun." Pink Floyd. "Wish You Were Here".


On a Dark night in Greatworth, if you stand quietly, you can still hear the wind, whistling through the feeder lines and Rhombics! While over in the hall, the sudden clatter of the teleprinter at 02.17am, detailing a QSY, would signal that it was time for a brew up as CAF 26's SWB 8 is shut down for it's coil change. Back to reality and life goes on.....


Why was the 75 amp fuse in a SWB 11's PSU louder by far, when blown, than the adjacent 150 amp fuse, what happened to the massively powerfull Redifon 200 and why was that STC DS13 soooo big? Ah, sweet mysteries of life. Answers please to the blog,

Wikimapia of "Greatworth Park", This scrollable map is `mouse controled' (Click the box to go to Wikimapia)

The Inn at Greatworth.

Everyone who served at RAF Greatworth, would have had a drink here at some time, staying for a pint or three of Hookies. It being the nearest watering hole to the camp. Happy days (daze?) There was a Post Office and small shop nearby too, not forgeting the church and chapel

The Inn has now reopened (Hooray!!!). It can be contacted on margaret waite@bradycorp.com


The Red Lion 

High Street

Culworth

OX17 2BD

Phone 01295 760050

Star Inn

Manor Road

Sulgrave

OX17 2SA

01295 760389


The Crown Inn

2 Helmdon Rd, Weston,

Northampton,

Northamptonshire,

NN12 8PX

01295 760310


The Bell

Church Street

Helmdon

Northamptonshire

NN13 5QJ

Tel: 01295 768155


The tuning of mind and machine

   Aston  Martin  Racing.

Are situated in the messes, naafi and accomodation buildings.

(where Triple 8 (888) once ocupied)


 

Tim Samways occupy the central end and east wing of the `T' in the TX Hall.

Restoration and garaging of classic/historic sports cars.

(Visitors only by apointment!)

 

At the northern end Of the TX Hall.

Angus Watt's Campers.

VW Campers's in the Centre Hall.


Close by the old Nissen Hut's site

and the CO's Old House site there is

Home Nurseries 

Off Welsh Road. Here, you can

buy plants for hanging baskets

and patio tubs etc.

01295 768 141