RAF Wroughton

RAF Wroughton was a Royal Air Force airfield near Wroughton, in Wiltshire, England, about 4 miles (6 km) south of Swindon. Ministry of Defence aviation activity ceased in 1972. The airfield now belongs to the Science Museum Group and is home to the Science Museum at Wroughton, which houses the large-object storage and library of the Science Museum. The site is also the home of The Grand Tour motoring series' test track.[1]

RAF Wroughton
Wroughton, Wiltshire
Near Swindon in England
RAF Wroughton
Coordinates51.507°N 1.802°W / 51.507; -1.802
Site information
OwnerScience Museum Group
Open to
the public
Site history
Built1 April 1940
In use1979 (1979)

Early history

The airfield opened on 1 April 1940.[2] It was used for the assembly and storage of aircraft during the Second World War.[3] Control of RAF Wroughton was handed over to the Royal Navy and it became the Royal Naval Aircraft Yard Wroughton in 1972.[3]

Science Museum at Wroughton

The large-object storage of the Science Museum has been at Wroughton since 1979.[4]

RAF Princess Alexandra Hospital

RAF Hospital Wroughton was part of the station and stood near the eastern boundary of the site, about 1 12 miles (2.4 km) west of Chiseldon.[5] The RAF General Hospital (as it was known) opened on 14 June 1941 and by the end of March 1944 its bed capacity was 1,000. Wroughton continued as a General Hospital treating military patients, and from 1958 took NHS cases as well to relieve backlogs in the Swindon area.[6]

Following a visit to the hospital by Princess Alexandra on 4 July 1967, the Queen conferred the prefix "Princess Alexandra's" on the hospital on 4 October 1967. The hospital was the primary destination for returning casualties of the Falklands War in 1982.[7] When the hostages from Beirut were released in August 1991, Wg Cdr Gordon Turnbull, a psychiatrist based at Wroughton, with his team, debriefed John McCarthy, Terry Waite and Jackie Mann and provided the counselling necessary to ease them back into freedom.[8]

The hospital closed on 31 March 1996 as part of the Conservative Government's defence cuts at the end of the cold war. The hospital was demolished in 2004 and the site, called Alexandra Park, used for housing and a conference centre; a memorial commemorates the former hospital.[9]

Current use

In 2016 a 50 MW[10] solar farm was completed on about 67 hectares of the airfield, with over 150,000 solar panels. This was a joint project of Public Power Solutions (a commercial arm of Swindon Borough Council)[11] and the Science Museum Group.[12]

The television series The Grand Tour operates their test track on the north end of the airfield, with the track encircling part of the Science Museum's storage facilities.[1]

See also


  1. "Jeremy Clarkson fears BBC could sue over new racing show The Grand Tour if too similar to Top Gear". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 October 2016.
  2. Chris Ashworth (1985). Action stations: Military airfields of the Central South and South-East. Volume 9 of Action Stations. Cambridge: Stephens. p. 307.
  3. "Wroughton Airfield". Pastscape. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  4. Big Object storage. Science Museum. Accessed March 2015.
  5. "Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps of Great Britain, sheet SU17". National Library of Scotland. 1960. Retrieved 3 September 2017.
  6. "RAF Hospital Wroughton". www.raf.mod.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  7. Walker, Caroline (13 February 2009). "Air Vice-Marshal Frederick C. Hurrell". Imperial College London. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  8. Stock, Jon (28 September 2002). "A safe haven for the hostage heroes". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  9. "Memorial planned for former hospital". Swindon Advertiser. 3 February 2004. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  10. Stoker, Liam (6 July 2017). "First community benefit funds from 50 MW Swindon Solar Farm to be paid". Solar Power Portal. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  11. "Solutions for the public sector". Swindon Borough Council. Retrieved 14 October 2018.
  12. (11 December 2013). Wiltshire solar farm at former RAF Wroughton site approved. BBC News. Accessed March 2015.

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