Indoor Meetings about Birds and Wildlife

Greenham Common from Military Base back to Heathland
by Ian Paine

Date: Thursday 21 February 2019 at 19:30



Greenham Common was for centuries a piece of heathland used by the Army for training. In World War 1 it was used for trench warfare training. In World War 2 the RAF and then the USAAF used the common as an airfield. Rebuilt and extended after the war, it was used by American bombers during the 1950's. It was then little used, except for airshows, until 1983 when it became a base for cruise missiles. The missiles were removed in 1991 and the base closed in September 1992.

Neptune   Stratotanker
A Dutch Navy SP-2H Neptune maritime patrol aircraft, parked by the control tower (which still exists today). The Neptune was at Greenham Common for an airshow in 1973.   A United States Air Force KC-97L tanker aircraft taking off from Greenham Common in 1974. These air-to-air refuelling tankers were used to extend the range of fighters and bombers.

The talk looks briefly at the history of Greenham Common and how it was restored back to heathland and the wildlife that has returned.

Runway   Runway gone
Greenham Common's 10,000 foot runway in late 1980. Picture By Fender100 via Wikimedia Commons.   Greenham Common in 2014. The runway and taxiways are gone.  Picture by Harvey Milligan, via Wikimedia Commons.
Path   Stonechat
Greenham Common, as restored today.   Stonechat on the restored Greenham Common.


Ian was born in Bedfordshire and lived in Potton, 2 miles from the RSPB headquarters at The Lodge.

At the age of 6 he gave money to the RSPB when “mugged” by Joyce Grenfell of 6d for her autograph at the opening of The Lodge!

Ian has worked as a civil servant, black and white photographic technician, youth work manager and a teacher of history, drama and maths. He also worked for the RSPB as Greenham Common Heathland Awareness Officer for 2 years on a part-time basis. Since retiring he is a full-time house husband, book reader, birder and bird photographer. He is also closely involved with the RSPB Wokingham and Bracknell Local Group.

Birding claim to fame – found Berkshire’s first Pallas warbler!

Greenham Common Map
Greenham Common Map

All pictures are © Copyright. Do not reproduce without permission via Steve Williams.