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RAF Shipdham High Common site, Norfolk

Remains of a former communal site of a WW2 USAAF bomber base in Norfolk.

This site is a former WW2 installation in a field about a grid square south of the former RAF Shipdham, adjacent to the village of High Common. It takes the form of a field with three large technical buildings, some concrete roads, an air raid shelter and many outlines of demolished buildings visible in the Google Earth aerial photograph. It's not the largest of WW2 sites but it proved to be worth the relatively short time it took to explore.

As an explore this was unplanned and unexpected, visiting a friend in a nearby village and walking off a Sunday lunch a conversation that started "You like looking at WW2 buildings don't you!" ended up in the report you see here. For this reason the site was not visited under optimum lighting conditions and there was no time for research so the photographs are not as good as I'd like them to be and beyond some background on RAF Shipdham I have little information on the exact purpose of this site.

Anyway, to the site. Enter the field on the convenient public footpath and there are the buildings. A group of three dilapidated structures.

The smallest of the three buildings is used by the farmer to store machinery. The other two buildings have more remains of their original equipment in place. Of these the smaller of the two has some pipework remains and a valve structure on the floor. Since originally writing this report this has been identified as a borehole, this building would have housed a pump that lifted the water in to an adjacent water tower.

The site is dotted with service manholes and small concrete pads, those adjacent to the building with the bore hole are in a grid that suggests the site of the water tower. The larger building has various mounting blocks and pits suggesting heavy machinery.

Judging by similar structures I've seen in reports from other WW2 sites I am tentatively identifying this building as housing auxiliary power generation equipment for this site.

Across the field in the middle of the building outlines visible on Google Earth is an air raid shelter. At first sight it appeared to be a Stanton shelter but on closer examination though it is similar in layout it has a different construction. It has survived in remarkably good condition despite over 60 years of neglect and several inches of water.

There is one other structure on the site that probably dates from WW2, an electricity distribution pole.

This is unlikely to be a post war electricity board pole for two reasons. First, the electricity boards clear up after themselves, such items have a value and can be sold on so when they decommission a pole they take it away with them. Second, the metalwork shows it to be a distribution pole with cabling to multiple destinations and since the only buildings ever to have been in this field are the WW2 ones it is likely that those were what it served. An unusual thing to survive on its own.

Online histories of RAF Shipdham concentrate on the airfield itself and its role in playing host to a succession of American bomber groups. I have been unable to find any reference to this site which suggests that it was not of special significance. Since it only had one shelter it is unlikely to have been a domestic site, it's more likely I have stumbled on the still standing remains of a generating station next to the site of a demolished technical or communal site.

A flash Earth link to this site is here: 

A final opportunity to indulge in a little weathered brickwork.