Waterbeach Barracks Denny End Road Waterbeach Cambridge CB25 9PA
Did you know?
In recent years the main runway, which still exists at Waterbeach Barracks, has been used as a repository for vast numbers of straw bales from farms in the area. The stacks are so high they can be clearly seen over the bund alongside the A10.
In late summer and early autumn, these bales have been transported – to the great annoyance of drivers and cyclists, and other users of the A10, who have to contend with vast swirls of flying straw from the lorries - to Sutton Cambridgeshire Electricity Generating Station.
At peak times, the power station burns 50 bales an hour.
The Barracks and the village
Many activities were undertaken in conjunction with the village of Waterbeach. A golf course was constructed in 1968 for the use of all ranks, and invited members/guests, including many from Waterbeach village.
‘Open Days’ were held when the local people were invited into the Barracks, and soldiers joined in activities in the village such as the Waterbeach Feast. On 5 September 1971 the first Burma Star Association Open Day was held at Waterbeach, with an air display that included the Red Arrows aerobatic team, using Gnat aircraft. Lord Mountbatten was one of the visitors to the Burma Star Open Days which were always well supported.
In 2012 the Regiment was granted the Freedom of the Parish of Waterbeach, and on the village Feast Day they marched through with band playing and bayonets fixed. Little did anyone know that within 9 months the Regiment would be re-deployed to Kinloss, in Scotland, and the Barracks closed.
Barrel rafts on the lake
The Memorial Garden
Royal Engineers’ Band marching through Waterbeach at noon on Saturday 16 June at the Village Feast, exercising their right to march with fixed bayonets. Photo WMHM.
Hunter at the gate. Photo WMHM.
Plaque marking the opening of the Memorial Garden by the lake on 13 June 2009, by Colonel F. R. Noble. Photo WMHM.
A lake was dug in 1975/6 for watermanship training and recreational purposes (mostly fishing, picnics, and the huge annual Guy Fawkes fireworks display and bonfire on the island in the lake). The spoil dug out was placed along the Western side of the training area to build up to existing air raid shelters for safety reasons, but primarily to provide a bund between the training area and the busy A10. This reduced traffic noise and prevented the lights from passing vehicles spilling disruptively over the area during night training exercises. An article in the Cambridge Evening News welcomed the lake and the bund and commented - apparently without irony - on how “traffic from the busy A10 was roaring along the road along the side of the airfield so the excavated soil from the lake went into creating an artificial bund to block off the lights and noise from training troops”.
A Memorial Garden was planned and laid after relatives of 514 Squadron RAF, who served at Waterbeach during World War II, requested to lay the remains of their loved ones on the airfield. Permission was sought and granted for an area which would be out of the way of military training on the airfield, and would be in a peaceful location, but near the main runway. The area selected was near the lake, and had vehicular access for anyone who had difficulty walking, as well as access for maintenance vehicles. Today the Memorial Garden has trees and plaques planted by relatives in memory of those commemorated, so it is a truly tranquil place for relatives to reflect and remember their loved ones.