Lamb Lies Down on the Runway - December 12
Steve and Merv in haunted Hanger 3
From tanks to tigermoths... by coincidence in the same week as the tank excursion around Budapest, I visited a huge abandoned airbase. I can tell you, it's intriguing and spooky... It would make a perfect setting for Dr Who or a post apocalypse movie.
RAF Coltishall, which was decommissioned about six years ago is only about ten minute's drive from Jo's mum's house. Warden of the place Mervyn Cousins (Merv) offered to show Jo and me around.
We began to realise the sheer scale of the place as we drove along the peri track and on to the runway. It's a strange experience to drive up a windswept runway in a car, with only sheep looking on. The blog title is a phrase coined by Amanda with Merv when she visited because there literally was a lamb there on the tarmac!
Beyond the runway was the perfect sci-fi set, including cold war blast walls and semi underground bomb and missile buildings, otherwise known as the bomb dump. I was just waiting for some strange mutant creature to appear from behind one of those mounds. An eerie silence pervaded that area, except for the harsh wind that whistled through the empty driveway.
The buildings were equally intriguing. It felt odd to stand in the place where top secret missions had been discussed behind bulky security locks. From the Air Traffic Control Tower you could get a sense of the size of the base. The jaguar simulator complex was like a large film or recording studio and Hangar Three was huge. There you could still see the bullet holes where there had been a massive raid. Merv said he had seen a black dog in that hangar which disappeared into thin air. Apparently other apparitions have been seen on the base, and it made sense to me how this could happen in a place where death was close at hand. Men were killed there in a World War II raid. An airman once asked for directions from someone working on the base, and then vanished. Merv often smells coffee in deserted open areas where it had once been brewed...
Enormous murals depicting planes in the Gulf war covered two facing walls of Hangar 1, a reminder that airmen from this place flew to the Gulf. More extraordinary wall paintings adorned the green room at the theatre, as well as pantomime scenery. This was a real community where people lived and played. Outside of Pompeii it's the largest ghost town I've ever seen.
It felt like returning from a strange netherworld to reality when we were shown into Merv's recording studio where I could sit and enjoy playing Merv's Brian May "Red Special Copy" and his Ibanez.
Our visit was an experience of the previous generations' yesteryears as well as a scary reminder of the constant threat of war. An extraordinary atmosphere alive with both the camaraderie and terrors of the spirits that passed through its echoing structures, chambers and windy passages.
For more info, go to www.spiritofcoltishall.com
Steve with semi-underground bomb and missile buildings
Giant mural in Hanger 1
Sheep look on
A cultural heritage