RAE Thurleigh - Bedfordshire - Jan 2012


Wiki Entry:

Starting in 1946, construction work began on the airfield to turn the site into what became known as the Royal Aeronautical Establishment, Bedford. The runway was extended in the post-war period to accommodate the Bristol Brabazon aircraft (which required a very long runway) that ultimately never went into production. One local road was dropped into a cutting so that it would not sit above the level of the runway.

The airfield was decommissioned in February 1994 after a lengthy study determined that flight operations should be centralised at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. Due to the cost and impracticality of relocating the Advanced Flight Simulator system the site retains some of its development work (under the banner of QinetiQ from mid-2001 onwards). As of early 2007, QinetiQ have sold their remaining stake in the Bedford Airfield site (as well as the nearby 'Wind Tunnel' site) and are planning to relocate the remaining staff to Farnborough in early 2008, finally ending the site's long association with military aviation.

The airfield was closed in 1997 with the RAE having become the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA). DERA consolidated its experimental flying operations at Boscombe Down, moving aircraft from Farnborough as well as Bedford.


To be fair ther is not a lot happening in this small part of the airfield which used to be known as the Admin block, consisting of a collection of single story derelict buildings typical of HM forces design. The spaces in the buildings have a very attractive quality to them, I think it must be the colours, which are all really well co-ordinated. Whether this is by accident or design I have no idea, but it would be amusing to think the HM forces employed design consultants to mull over the various pastel shades each room should use. I thought it might photograph really well with film, most of which the below where taken.


Couple of establishing outside shots.




Inside pretty much all the huts looked a lot like this, except this one had a fireplace in it.



These strange electrical boards must have once had something to do with the research carried out here.





"Good advice".




Boiler room.



A typical corridor.



Another hut.






Remains of a sink.