RAF Upwood is a location I've wanted to travel to for a while now. I've seen pictures of it online and it looked amazing. We gain access really easily. It's essentially open to the public but not. There was a good 50 different buildings to explore and record sounds in. Most buildings were completely empty so didn't get a great deal of recording done here. But what we did do is explore a great deal. In the video in this article you can see a POV view as we explored a few of the buildings.
Whilst exploring RAF Upwood for object to record we came across one of the best sounding metal staircases I have ever heard. The reason this staircase worked so well was because it was loose and flimsy, so it rattled and resonated for a long period of time. The impacts we recorded from this staircase were amazing. By far one of my favourite recordings I have ever done. We entered a large boiler house which was relatively empty but still had a few pipes handing down from the ceiling and a ladder which again resonated well. All in all due to the rooms being stripped empty it wasn't the best recording location but was by far the most interesting to explore.
Purpose Of Visit
The purpose of these kinds of visits is mainly to record audio. We record everything from metal doors to paint canisters. We record such sounds to add into our location recording VST's and kontakt samplers which can be download here. This particular location recording session is for a new sound design library of sounds intended for film and tv as well as other media outlets. We'll be recording at various different locations over the coming months in order to accumulate a vast range of unique sounds to include in our library.
About RAF Upwood
RAF Upwood originated in September 1917 when the War Department requisitioned Hill Farm, then owned by Lord de Ramsey, for use as an Emergency Landing Ground. The airfield was later used as a Home Defence 1st Class Night Landing Ground for BE2 aircraft of 7 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. By the summer of 1918 permanent huts and five large hangars had been constructed and the site renamed Upwood Airfield, under 6th Brigade, Midland Area of the 47th Home Defence Wing of the newly formed Royal Air Force. When World War I ended the airfield reverted to agricultural use with the buildings being salvaged by local farmers.
The Royal Air Force returned to Upwood Airfield in January 1937 when Squadrons 52 and 63, equipped with Hawker Hind and Audax bi-planes, were located there. Squadrons 90 and 53, equipped with Bristol Blenheims, replaced 52 and 63 Squadrons by February 1940 - their main mission to train RAF personnel for bombing missions. These two units later merged to form 17 Operational training Unit (OTU).
In September 1940, No.11 Beam Approach Training (BAT) Flight unit was formed at Upwood, with emphasis on bad weather and night flying training.
Joseph Jakobs was parachuted in to spy on RAF Upwood in Jan 1941. Breaking his ankle on landing he was easily captured and eventually imprisoned in the Tower of London becoming the last known person to be executed in the Tower.
By April 1943 the airfield came under No. 8 PFF (Pathfinders) Group but as the grass runways were frequently waterlogged, upgrading work was required.
Three new concrete runways were constructed by October 1943, allowing the first of the Pathfinder Squadrons, No. 139 (Jamaica), to use the airfield the following January. From this time forward, Upwood Airfield was home to 139 Squadron equipped with Mosquitoes as well as 156 Squadron with Lancaster bombers.
At the end of the Second World War, 156 Squadron was relocated at Wyton whilst 139 Squadron remained at Upwood until February 1946. After this it was used as a training centre for some time and was later leased to the USAF. It is now closed, although USAF has retained a medical facility on site. The housing has been sold and some of the hangars have been converted for use by Turbine Motor Works Ltd. There are ambitious plans to redevelop the rest of the base.