Operational Sites and Bases
Strategic or Tactical Missile Site
RAF Greenham Common
Full name of site:
RAF Greenham Common
Greenham, Thatcham RG19 6HN, Storbritannien
In December 1983 RAF Greenham Common became the first operational Ground Launched Cruise Missile base in Europe; other complexes were built in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy.
The heavily protected shelters were designed to house mobile missile launchers and their control centres, which in times of tension would be widely dispersed across the local countryside.
During the 1980s Greenham Common also became synonymous with the resurgent peace movement and especially the women’s peace camp. Its operational life was very short and in December 1987 the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty between the United States of America and the Soviet Union eliminated intermediate and shorter-range missiles in Europe.
The cruise missile unit ceased operations on 31 May 1991. Most of the airfield’s runways and taxiways have been removed, the cruise missile shelter complex is protected as a scheduled monument; the combat support building and wing headquarters, and earlier control tower are listed buildings.
The former airfield is in multiple ownership. Most of the former flying field has been returned to grassland and is owned by West Berkshire Council, the cruise missile shelters are in private ownership as are a number of other surviving airfield structures. The control tower is managed by a charitable trust.
Valuation of authenticity and integrity:
At the time of closure the base was subject to some stripping out, but most of the missile shelters retain their principal fittings and are surrounded by the original fence in some places repaired after attacks by peace campaigners.
Status and access:
Partial – The fenced area of the former cruise missile shelters is privately owned, but may be viewed from the adjacent publicly accessible common. The airfield’s former control tower is open as a visitor centre and cafe.