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Waterbeach Barracks
Entrance to Waterbeach Barracks - - 673456.jpg
Waterbeach Barracks
Type Barracks
Coordinates Latitude:
Built 1966
In use 1966-2013
Ministry of Defence

Waterbeach Barracks' is a former military installation in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire. The site was an RAF Station, RAF Waterbeach and then used by the Royal Engineers, part of the British Army, from 1966, until 2013 when the site closed to make way for housing.


In 1966 the station and airfield remained the property of the Ministry of Defence, but was transferred from the Royal Air Force to the Royal Engineers, part of the British Army.[1] Until the closure of nearby RAF Oakington in the early 1970s, the main runway at Waterbeach remained active, along with the control tower, and was used as a relief landing ground for Varsities used in the advanced pilot training role. The barracks, airfield and surrounding quarters most recently housed 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group. The former airfield was used as a training area for troops, with occasional visits by helicopters and, in the past, by Harriers.[2] 25 Engineer Regiment was disbanded on 19 April 2012. Two of its squadrons (34 Field Squadron and 53 Field Squadron) have become part of 39 Engineer Regiment and will move to RAF Kinloss.[3]

In July 2011 the Ministry of Defence announced that Waterbeach Barracks will close, and the site sold for housing.[4] In November 2011 and March 2012 the Ministry of Defence announced that 39 Engineer Regiment would move to Kinloss Barracks in July 2012. A total of 930 Service personnel will move to Kinloss, and 44 Service personnel to Wittering.[5] HQ 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group will move from Waterbeach to RAF Wittering in October 2012, with the complete closure of Waterbeach Barracks by 1 April 2013.[5][6]

First units of 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support) arrived at Kinloss Barracks in June 2012, with the majority leaving Waterbeach during July.[7] Their move was complete by September 2012.[8] Waterbeach Barracks closed on 28 March 2013.[9]

Future DevelopmentEdit

The site was subject to an MOD disposal process by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, and in August 2014 Urban&Civic were appointed as Development Partners.[10] In October 2015 they held open days for local residents to tour the site and meet the design team, as the first stage of their consultation on the development of the MoD site and surrounding farmland, as new settlements.[11] Regular Newsletters for local residents are being issued.[12] In December 2015 a community engagement report on the Open Days was published by David Lock Associates, for Urban&Civic, which includes the open day display boards.[13]

During 2016 design workshops are being held bringing together the Urban&Civic and RLW Estates design teams, key local authority partners, the parish council, neighbourhood plan working group, and local residents.[14]

Waterbeach Military Heritage MuseumEdit

In June 1984 a station museum was established by the Army to record and preserve items from RAF Waterbeach - in particular from 514 Squadron who hold their reunions at the barracks every year - as well as artefacts from the Army (39 Engineer Regiment). As the barracks closed in March 2013, the Museum closed to visitors on 30 September 2012.[15]

In 2011 John Hamlin, an aviation historian, and the museum curator wrote a book documenting the history of RAF Waterbeach and Waterbeach Barracks, to raise money for the museum.[16] In 2014 it was updated to include closure and contact information [17]

In December 2012, a group of villagers set up a trust, the Waterbeach Military Heritage Museum, and the Army gifted the collection to it. The barracks museum contents were stored outside the barracks. The honorary curator from the barracks continued to answer enquiries and carry out research. He had an assurance from the most likely developers of the MOD owned airfield and barracks (RLW Estates, and then Urban&Civic) that the inclusion of a Museum will form an important part of the site's heritage.[18][19]

During 2015 the museum started the move back into its building at the barracks, and will be formally re-opened on 17 June 2017, thereafter it will open from 10 am - 4 pm on the first Sunday and first Wednesday of each month during the summer, it will also be open by appointment. The building will also be used for community groups and workshops by Urban&Civic.[20][21]


  1. Planning Application CP88 - Denny St Francis (Waterbeach), Cambridgeshire County Council, accessed 2011-07-20
  2. Waterbeach Barracks, 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group
  3. "First tranche of Army unit moves confirmed". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  4. "Waterbeach military base to close". Retrieved 19 July 2011. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "First tranche of Army unit moves confirmed". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  6. "Waterbeach Forward - March 2012". Waterbeach Forward. Retrieved 24 March 2012. 
  7. Moray gets ready to welcome the Army as advance party settles in, 19 June 2012.
  8. RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue Team, 7 July 2012.
  9. "Waterbeach Barracks closes to make way for housing". BBC. Retrieved 29 March 2013. 
  10. "Waterbeach Barracks and former Airfield". Urban&Civic. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  11. "Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield, open days 17 and 21 October". Urban&Civic. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  12. "Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield, Latest News from U&C". Urban&Civic. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  13. "Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield, Open Day report published". Urban&Civic. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  14. "Waterbeach arracks and Airfield, Latest News from U&C". Urban&Civic. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  15. Waterbeach Barracks Museum, March 2013.
  16. Hamlin, John F; Merrington, Oliver J (2011). At the 'Beach: the story of Royal Air Force Waterbeach and Waterbeach Barracks. GMS Enterprises, Peterborough. 
  17. At the 'Beach, January 2016.
  18. "Waterbeach Barracks museum contents saved by villagers". Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  19. "Museum's collection is saved". Retrieved 21 December 2012. 
  20. "Waterbeach Military Heritage Museum". Retrieved 16 April 2016. 
  21. "Waterbeach Barracks and Airfield, Facilities to be opened up for local use". Urban&Civic. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 

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