About four or probably five years ago when I joined my band Circa Fall I made a visit to Rivenhall Airfield… Why? Because we needed a backdrop for a photo shoot, I wanted it to be decayed, derelict and grungy. After some Googling I came across some urban exploration sites of which I’ve already blogged about and this little place came up a few times. I made this trip a few weeks before I made the ill fated visit with the band and took a few odd shots here and there just so I could so the others what I was trying to achieve.
I’ve never actually got round to processing them properly until now, however because I was merely pointing and shooting some of these shots weren’t great. So what I’ve decided to do is process them all in black and white as I’m a huge black and white fan. I like my B&W’s contrasty, gritty and dark, so if your looking for a colourful, vibrant photographic trip around the airfield, this report ain’t it!
Rivenhall Airfield, in Essex, opened in October 1943 and was initially used by the US 9th Air Force. The 397th Bomb Group played a major part before and after D-Day, attacking tactical targets such as bridges. The airfield was later taken over by the RAF and Nos 295 and 570 Squadrons supported Resistance forces by delivering supplies such as weaponry and other equipment.
In March 1945 Rivenhall aircraft towed 60 paratroop assault gliders over the River Rhine as part of Operation Varsity. It was the largest single airborne operation in history to be carried out in a day and in one location and was designed to allow the Allies to secure a foothold in western Germany.
Rivenhall Airfield closed in September 1946 and the site later become a post-war campsite for displaced Polish people. Notable buildings, such as the gymnasium, remain as part of an industrial estate. The site was used for many years after this by the Marconi company for radar testing but is now under threat from further development. All that mainly remains of the airfield today are parts of the perimeter track and two T2 hangars. That’s why our memorial was so important; it is vital that this piece of history is not forgotten.