Between 1944 and 1960 Wimpole Park was host in turn to an American Hospital treating army casualties of war, a squatters camp, an experimental teacher training college, a community school, emergency local authority housing, and lastly a US Air Force Hospital best remembered for being the 'place-of-birth' for hundreds of Americans.
During 1959/1960, the USAF Hospital was decommissioned and all the buildings and roads were completely removed. Wimpole Park was returned to arable pasture.
Return to Pasture
© Pat Honey
(This page has been adapted
from an article that appeared in
I spent 12 years in the Royal Air Force from 1952 to 1964. For eight years during this time I was in the Airfield Construction branch, whose main depot was initially based at RAF Church Lawford near Rugby, before moving to RAF Wellesbourne Mountford near Stratford-upon-Avon.
From there detachments were sent to work in the Far and Middle East, Europe and many UK military stations, to carry out building, rebuilding, and maintenance of mainly RAF flying stations. The main emphasis was on runways, dispersal bays and aircraft and bomb shelters etc.
In 1960 an unusual job came our way and some 40 of us were sent to Wimpole Park, where during the second World War an American military hospital had been built. A condition of being allowed to build the hospital in the Park, then a private estate, was that at the end of its use it had to be totally dismantled and the original grass parkland restored.
A Bray loading shovel in use at Wimpole Park 1960
It was quite a job when you consider that the complex consisted of 'spiders' of wards linked by enclosed corridors, main buildings containing all the operating theatres, a main administration block, staff quarters, boiler houses and a sewage farm with three circular filter beds.
To add to that all the roads had been laid with concrete, over twelve inches thick in places, and a huge concrete water tank had been built on the hill. All this had to be totally obliterated and removed from the site.
The Bray loading shovel (left), material
It was our job to knock down, transport and crush all material and stockpile. Once stockpiled the removal from site of the hard-core was a civilian operation and most of it went into the foundation of the Biggleswade bypass.
If any members of 5003 Squadron Wimpole Detachment read this, please contact me through this web site as I have many more photographs of the nine months we spent at Wimpole Park.