2013 — present

Site closure

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All units left the site by April 2013, and the site was formally closed as part of the Government’s plans to release public land for housing in areas of greatest need. In August 2014 Urban&Civic were appointed as Development Managers to bring forward the future development of the site. You can find out more about our activities since then from the News section.

1966 — 2013

The Royal Engineers

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Under the Royal Engineers the Airfield and Barracks area were used for a variety of Air Support roles and a training ground for troops, which have shaped the unique nature of the site, including a 20 acre man-made lake for amphibious training; extensive repair and creation of areas of runway; and planting of areas of dense woodland.

1950 — 1965

Jet aircraft

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From 1950 Fighter Command took over and introduced a range of new jet aircraft into the Cambridgeshire skies, including Gloster Meteors, Supermarine swifts, de Havilland Venoms and Vampires, and Gloster Javelins. They were joined in May 1955 by the Hawker Hunter and in 1957 by the prototype English Electric Lightning, but the last fixed wing aircraft left in August 1963, handing over the airfield to the Airfield Construction Branch of the RAF and then to the Royal Engineers in 1966.

1945 — 1949

Early post-War period

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After the Second World War, the airfield passed to the control of Transport Command, flying Consolidated B24 Liberators, Douglas Dakotas and Avro Yorks and Lancasters. Aircraft from RAF Waterbeach were among the 200,000 flights flown in one year as part of Operation Plainfare, which provided West Berliners with up to 8,893 tonnes of necessities each day during the Berlin Airlift (June 1948 – September 1949).

1939 — 1945

RAF Waterbeach

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From 1939-1945, the airfield known as RAF Waterbeach was established. This obliterated the majority of the existing field boundaries along with Winfold Farm. Construction started soon after the outbreak of World War II. This airbase was active during the war, and contained hangars, stores, and other buildings associated with aerial warfare. It was under the control of Royal Air Force Bomber Command and used by a number of units, including 99 Squadron, 1651 Conversion Unit and 514 Squadron. During the war the airfield was used for training as well as an operational base from which attacks on occupied mainland Europe were launched.


Gate Piers erected at the Abbey entrance

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By 1809 the main road joining Ely and Cambridge had moved to the west of Denny Abbey. Around 1814, the Gate Piers at the current Abbey entrance site were likely erected, using a 14th Century moulded pier of the Franciscan church and surmounted by Grecian urns. Access to the former Abbey remained however rather via the trackway leading northwards from Winfold Farm – across the current barracks site – joining the causeway to the south of the abbey platform. The same map illustrates the field pattern surrounding the Abbey and extending towards Chittering, and south where the historic field patterns later made way for airfield construction.


The Causeway Farmhouse

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To the north of the Denny Abbey site is the Grade II listed Causeway Farmhouse, which dates to c.1620, with additions dating from the late C18 and C19. This property stands approximately 1.5km north of the Abbey, and was leased to Edward Elrington, along with the main Abbey, in 1548 after the Dissolution.


Denny Priory

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In 1169, a Benedictine monastery was founded at Denny Priory, after which the site was acquired by the Knights Templar to house elderly and infirm members.

4000 BC

Neolithic Waterbeach

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Evidence of settlement in the Neolithic period (4,000 to 2500 BC) is shown by local finds of the distinctive polished stone axe heads, other features of settlement below ground, and small quantities of pottery have also been found.


Paleolithic & Mesolithic Waterbeach

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Communities living around the Waterbeach and Denny Abbey area can be traced back to the earliest prehistoric times, with finds of Palaeolithic flint axes which can date from 500,000 to 10,000 BC and rare records of flint tools of Mesolithic date dating between 10,000 to 4,000 BC.