Locating a lost airbase…

It’s always great to hear from old friend of the blog Ian Broad – many of you will remember that Ian lived in the now derelict quarry bungalow at Sandhills, Shire Oak and his family owned the shop Tom’s Cabin in Brownhills for many years.

Ian also sent in a wonderful photo of 1982 Shire Oak School leavers outside the Royal Oak pub in Shire Oak. Well, this time he’s turned his hand to something different: RAF Hednesford.

The long-gone RAF Base up on the Chase existed from 1939 until 1956 and was finally mostly demolished by 1970. For most of its life it was a training camp for aero mechanics, but later became a more basic induction and squarebashing camp.

You can read more about RAF Hednesford here: There is also a great discovery trail you can follow here and exploring the area is a historical voyage of discovery – few today visiting the quiet wooded areas would imagine the noise and extent of the camp 60 years hence.

Ian’s friend Steve Blower has overlaid a wartime aerial image of RAF Hednesford over modern imagery. It’s really quite astounding, and excellent work – you can explore the image below.

RAF Hednesford for it’s heyday overlaid on modern Google Earth imagery. Image supplied by Ian Broad, and created by Steve Blower. Click for a larger version.

Ian wrote:

Hi Bob,

Well, not strictly Brownhills but I know you like Cannock Chase. 

I like comparing photos from past with the same location in the present. I asked my old school mate Steve Blower to do this pic for me. He’s much better in photoshop than me. 

Here’s a pic of the Marquis Drive / Brindley Heath (top pic) area from google maps and the same pic with RAF Hednesford overlaid on the same. 

Thought you might like to see the comparison. 


The current Google Earth imagery from the area: Little trace remains. Click for a larger version. Image supplied by Ian Broad.

Thanks to Ian and Steve for a wonderful, thought-provoking contribution. This really is most fascinating.

Thanks to Ian for another great post, and if you have any memories of RAF Hednesford, or anything else concerning the military history of the Chase and wider area, please do comment here, shout me on social media or mail me – BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks.

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3 Responses to Locating a lost airbase…


    I remember firing Bren guns and 303 rifles on the range, plus a bit of square bashing whilst in the A.TC. around 1954, an old employee of my father and friend was collecting laundry from the camp, driving one of Lichfield Launderies converted Austin ambulances fitted with a Perkins P 4 engine, the handbrake vibrated off, it ran down the hill into the admin. building doors, it’s worth remembering the 2′ deep sink of boiling water in the mess, with a ladle on a chain to recover your knife and fork if you dropped it.

    Much later around 1991 my late wife and I purchased fish and chips in Hednesford and decided to park on the visitor centre, which more or less overlooks the old camp site, we left after about 10min., we both had a strange eerie feeling of some presence, myself I might have understood, but she was from Kent and a naval background, connection or what ??

  2. memouries of the old hednesford are known through out the world many many stories and memouries are abound from 1914 to after the second world war stories of KIT BAG HILL a walk many new recruites took from the rugeley road halt to the main gates at marquis drive gates it has refew g memouries new zealand stories sutch as FREADERS GRAVE THEIR MASCOT then the domestic years of brindley village yes its a special part of the cannock chase memouries shared by many many people of all walks of life

  3. Ian wood says:

    There were two spitfires used as gate guards at hednesford both were mark 5’s AR614 and BM597 both are now airworthy BM597 was built at castle brom. when the camp was shut down i was told some hangers were moved to chasetown when and what types i do not know.
    I run the parkrun most saturdays the 5k course uses tracks left from the Raf camp including part of kit bag hill now instead of been screamed at by Nco’s you get cheered on by the marshalls now.

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