Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, the entire Forest of Dean; the county town is the city of Gloucester, other principal towns include Cheltenham, Tewkesbury and Dursley. Gloucestershire borders Herefordshire to the north west, Wiltshire to the south and Somerset to the south west, Worcestershire to the north, Oxfordshire to the east, Warwickshire to the north east, the Welsh county of Monmouthshire to the west. Gloucestershire is a historic county mentioned in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in the 10th century, though the areas of Winchcombe and the Forest of Dean were not added until the late 11th century. Gloucestershire included Bristol a small town; the local rural community moved to the port city, Bristol's population growth accelerated during the industrial revolution. Bristol became a county in its own right, separate from Gloucestershire and Somerset in 1373, it became part of the administrative County of Avon from 1974 to 1996.
Upon the abolition of Avon in 1996, the region north of Bristol became a unitary authority area of South Gloucestershire and is now part of the ceremonial county of Gloucestershire. The official former postal county abbreviation was "Glos.", rather than the used but erroneous "Gloucs." or "Glouc". In July 2007, Gloucestershire suffered the worst flooding in recorded British history, with tens of thousands of residents affected; the RAF conducted the largest peacetime domestic operation in its history to rescue over 120 residents from flood affected areas. The damage was estimated at over £2 billion. Gloucestershire has three main landscape areas, a large part of the Cotswolds, the Royal Forest of Dean and the Severn Vale; the Cotswolds take up a large portion of the east and south of the county, The Forest of Dean taking up the west, with the Severn and its valley running between these features. The Daffodil Way in the Leadon Valley, on the border of Gloucestershire and Herefordshire surrounding the village of Dymock, is known for its many spring flowers and woodland, which attracts many walkers.
This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of Gloucestershire at current basic prices published by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling. The following is a chart of Gloucestershire's gross value added total in thousands of British Pounds Sterling from 1997-2009 based upon the Office for National Statistics figures The 2009 estimation of £11,452 million GVA can be compared to the South West regional average of £7,927 million. Gloucestershire has comprehensive schools with seven selective schools. There are 42 state secondary schools, not including sixth form colleges, 12 independent schools, including the renowned Cheltenham Ladies' College, Cheltenham College and Dean Close School. All but about two schools in each district have a sixth form, but the Forest of Dean only has two schools with sixth forms. All schools in South Gloucestershire have sixth forms. Gloucestershire has two universities, the University of Gloucestershire and the Royal Agricultural University, four higher and further education colleges, Gloucestershire College, Cirencester College, South Gloucestershire and Stroud College and the Royal Forest of Dean College.
Each has campuses at multiple locations throughout the county. The University of the West of England has three locations in Gloucestershire. Gloucestershire has one city and 33 towns: Gloucester The towns in Gloucestershire are: Town in Monmouthshire with suburbs in Gloucestershire: Chepstow The county has two green belt areas, the first covers the southern area in the South Gloucestershire district, to protect outlying villages and towns between Thornbury and Chipping Sodbury from the urban sprawl of the Bristol conurbation; the second belt lies around Gloucester and Bishop's Cleeve, to afford those areas and villages in between a protection from urban sprawl and further convergence. Both belts intersect with the boundaries of the Cotswolds AONB. There are a variety of religious buildings across the county, notably the cathedral of Gloucester, the abbey church of Tewkesbury, the church of Cirencester. Of the abbey of Hailes near Winchcombe, founded by Richard, Earl of Cornwall, in 1246, little more than the foundations are left, but these have been excavated and fragments have been brought to light.
Most of the old market towns have parish churches. At Deerhurst near Tewkesbury and Bishop's Cleeve near Cheltenham, there are churches of special interest on account of the pre-Norman work they retain. There is a Perpendicular church in Lechlade, that at Fairford was built, according to tradition, to contain a series of stained-glass windows which are said to have been brought from the Netherlands; these are, adjudged to be of English workmanship. Other notable buildings include Calcot Barn in a relic of Kingswood Abbey. Thornbury Castle is a Tudor country house, the pretensio
Cursus monuments are Neolithic structures which represent some of the oldest prehistoric monumental structures of the Islands of Britain and Ireland. Relics found within them show that they were built between 3400 and 3000 BC. Superficially resembling ditches or trenches, they range in length from 50 yards to 6 miles and the distance between the parallel earthworks can be up to 100 yards. Banks at the terminal ends enclose the cursus. Over fifty have been identified via aerial photography while many others have doubtless been obliterated by farming and other subsequent landscaping activities. Examples include the four cursuses at Rudston in Yorkshire, that at Fornham All Saints in Suffolk, the Cleaven Dyke in Perthshire and the Dorset cursus. A notable example is the Stonehenge Cursus, within sight of the more famous stone circle, on land belonging to The National Trust's Stonehenge Landscape, it has been conjectured that they were used in rituals connected with ancestor veneration, that they follow astronomical alignments or that they served as buffer zones between ceremonial and occupation landscapes.
More recent studies have reassessed the original interpretation and argued that they were used for ceremonial competitions. Finds of arrowheads at the terminal ends suggest archery and hunting were important to the builders and that the length of the cursus may have reflected its use as a proving ground for young men involving a journey to adulthood. Anthropological parallels exist for this interpretation. Contemporary internal features are rare and it has been traditionally thought that the cursuses were used as processional routes, they are aligned on and respect the position of pre-existing long barrows and bank barrows and appear to ignore difficulties in terrain. The Dorset Cursus, the longest known example, crosses a river and three valleys along its course across Cranborne Chase and is close to the henge monuments at Knowlton; the present-day Tynwald day ceremony on the Isle of Man involves the procession of parliament along a cursus-like structure, sometimes suggested as a related or continual folk tradition with the neolithic cursus.
Larger scale modern ceremonial analogs might include the National Mall in Washington, The Mall, London. Numerous examples of cursus are known and the discipline of aerial archaeology is the most effective method of identifying such large features following thousands of years of weathering and plough damage; some cursus have only been identified through a first sighting of cropmarks visible from aerial reconnaissance. Avenue Cursus publicus Jim Champion, "The Enigmatic Cursus", Megalithic Portal, 23 April 2005, ed. A. Burnham C. Michael Hogan "Fetteresso Fieldnotes", The Modern Antiquarian David McOmish, "Cursus: solving a 6,000-year-old puzzle", British Archaeology, Issue no 69, March 2003, editor Simon Denison ISSN 1357-4442 Don Lipman, "Snow fences: do they still serve a purpose?", The Washington Post, 10 January 2013 English Heritage: Cursus Gerald S. Hawkins, Stonehenge Decoded Doubleday & Co Inc, Garden City, New York Kenneth Brophy, Seeing the cursus as a symbolic river, British Archaeology
Fire services in the United Kingdom
The fire services in the United Kingdom operate under separate legislative and administrative arrangements in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland. Emergency cover is provided by over fifty agencies; these are known as a fire and rescue service, the term used in modern legislation and by government departments. The older terms of fire brigade and fire service survive in informal usage and in the names of a few organisations. England and Wales have local fire services which are each overseen by a fire authority, made up of representatives of local governments. Fire authorities have the power to raise a Council Tax levy for funding, with the remainder coming from the government. Scotland and Northern Ireland have centralised fire services, so their authorities are committees of the devolved parliaments; the total budget for fire services in 2014-15 was £2.9 billion. Central government maintains national standards and a body of independent advisers through the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser, created in 2007, while Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services provides direct oversight.
The devolved government in Scotland has HMFSI Scotland. Firefighters in the United Kingdom are allowed to join unions, the main one being the Fire Brigades Union, while chief fire officers are members of the National Fire Chiefs Council, which has some role in national co-ordination; the fire services have undergone significant changes since the beginning of the 21st century, a process, propelled by a devolution of central government powers, new legislation and a change to operational procedures in the light of terrorism attacks and threats. See separate article History of fire safety legislation in the United Kingdom Comprehensive list of recent UK fire and rescue service legislation: Fire services are established and granted their powers under new legislation which has replaced a number of Acts of Parliament dating back more than 60 years, but is still undergoing change. 1938: Fire Brigades Act 1938. This Act provided for centralised co-ordination of fire brigades in Great Britain and made it mandatory for local authorities to arrange an effective fire service.
1947: Fire Services Act 1947 This Act transferred the functions of the National Fire Service to local authorities. Now repealed in England and Wales by Schedule 2 of the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004. 1959: Fire Services Act 1959 This Act amended the 1947 Act. It was repealed in Wales along with the 1947 Act. 1999: Greater London Authority Act 1999 This act was necessary to allow for the formation of the Greater London Authority and in turn the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. In 2002, there was a series of national fire strikes, with much of the discontent caused by the aforementioned report into the fire service conducted by Prof Sir George Bain. In December 2002, the Independent Review of the Fire Service was published with the industrial action still ongoing. Bain's report led to a change in the laws relating to firefighting. 2002: Independent Review of the Fire Service published 2004: Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004 only applying to England and Wales. 2006: The Regulatory Reform Order 2005 This piece of secondary legislation or statutory instrument replaces several other acts that dealt with fire precautions and fire safety in premises, including the now defunct process of issuing fire certificates.
It came into force on 1 October 2006. The DfCLG has published a set of guides for non-domestic premises: 2006: The Government of Wales Act 2006 gave the National Assembly for Wales powers to pass laws on "Fire and rescue services. Promotion of fire safety otherwise than by prohibition or regulation." But does not prevent future legislation being passed by the UK government which applies to two or more constituent countries. There are further plans to modernise the fire service according to the Local Government Association, its website outlines future changes, specific projects: "The aim of the Fire Modernisation Programme is to adopt modern work practices within the Fire & Rescue Service to become more efficient and effective, while strengthening the contingency and resilience of the Service to react to incidents. " The fire service in England and Wales is scrutinised by a House of Commons select committee. In June 2006, the fire and rescue service select committee, under the auspices of the Communities and Local Government Committee, published its latest report.
Committee report The committee's brief is described on its website: The Communities and Local Government Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure and policy of the Department for Communities and Local Government and its associated bodies. Government response This document, the subsequent government response in September 2006, are important as they outlined progress on the FiReControl, efforts to address diversity and the planned closure of HMFSI in 2007 among many issues. Both documents are interesting as they refer back to Professor Bain's report and the many recommendations it made and continue to put forward the notion that there is an ongoing need to modernise FRSs. For example, where FRSs were inspected by HMFSI, much of this work is now carried out by the National Audit Office. Fire Control On 8 February 2010 the House of Commons Communities and Local Governm
Royal Air Force Fairford or more RAF Fairford is a Royal Air Force station in Gloucestershire, England, a standby airfield and therefore not in everyday use. Its most prominent use in recent years has been as an airfield for United States Air Force B-52s during the 2003 Iraq War, Operation Allied Force in 1999, the first Gulf War in 1991, it is the US Air Force's only European airfield for heavy bombers. RAF Fairford was the only TransOceanic Abort Landing site for NASA's Space Shuttle in the UK; as well as having a sufficiently long runway for a shuttle landing, it had NASA-trained fire and medical crews stationed on the airfield. The runway is rated with an unrestricted load-bearing capacity, meaning that it can support any aircraft with any type of load. RAF Fairford is the home of the Royal International Air Tattoo, an annual air display. RIAT is one of the largest airshows in the world, with the 2003 show recognised by Guinness World Records as the largest military airshow with an attendance of 535 aircraft.
RAF Fairford was constructed in 1944 to serve as an airfield for British and American troop carriers and gliders for the D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II. The RAF uses it to lift British troops for Operation Market Garden during World War II. In the early years of the Cold War the British and American governments reached an agreement under which elements of the USAF Strategic Air Command would be based in the UK. Bases had been established in East Anglia, at RAF Mildenhall and RAF Lakenheath, but they were considered to be vulnerable to bomber attack and airfields further behind the RAF fighter defences were sought. Four RAF airfields were selected to receive SAC units: RAF Brize Norton, RAF Fairford, RAF Greenham Common and RAF Upper Heyford. In 1948 the Americans occupied RAF stations including Fairford, Brize Norton, Greenham Common, Mildenhall and Woodbridge to build up a deterrent in Europe against the Soviets. RAF Lyneham's position as the primary tactical transport base for the RAF was emphasised in February 1971 when Nos. 30 and 47 Squadrons were transferred from their old base at RAF Fairford.
In 1950, as a result of the beginning of the Cold War, the airfield was transferred to the United States Air Force for strategic bomber operations. A 10,000-foot runway was constructed for long-range bomber operations; the runway was completed in 1953, served as a forward airbase for the first Convair B-36 Peacemaker aircraft from Carswell Air Force Base, Texas. The airfield received B-47s which were maintained at a heightened state of alert because of increased tensions with the Soviet Union. Due to the long runwayFairford was chosen in 1969 as the British test centre for the Concorde aircraft until 1977; the U. S. Air Force returned with Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers deployed on rotation from the many KC-135 bases in the USA. On 15 November 1978 the 11th Strategic Group was activated at RAF Fairford, it was not manned until the following February and used KC-135 aircraft and crews from SAC, Air National Guard, AF Reserve units until the 11 SG received its own aircraft in September 1979. It soon began aerial refueling support for all USAF operations and redeployments, as well as participating in NATO exercises.
Operations staff and maintenance personnel were permanently assigned, but aircraft and crew chiefs were temporarily assigned to the 11th Strategic Group for the European Tanker Task Force on rotation. Aircraft and crews operated from Saudi Arabia; the unit retained the 11th Strategic Group designation, but was inactivated on 7 August 1990. KC-135 and KC-10 tankers deployed to Fairford supported Operation El Dorado Canyon against Libya in 1986; the KC-135s and KC-10s were withdrawn in 1990 and the station was returned to standby status, upgraded to'limited use' in the mid-1990s. In 2010, military personnel were removed. Due to RAF Fairford's location and infrastructure, the airfield is designated as a forward operating location for the US Air Force, it was used in the first Gulf War with B-52s and KC-135s from Eaker AFB in Arkansas. It was used during Operation Allied Force in 1999 when B-52s from Barksdale AFB, B-1Bs from Ellsworth AFB and KC-135s from Mountain Home AFB were used. During that conflict, Fairford-based bombers dropped 48% of the ordnance dropped by NATO on targets in the former Yugoslavia.
In the 2003 Iraq War, Operation Iraqi Freedom included B-52s based at Minot AFB but flying from Fairford. In recent years the airfield has been used by American B-2 Spirit stealth bombers and is visited by U-2 aircraft. Due to the deteriorating airfield facilities and its unique NATO heavy bomber mission, RAF Fairford underwent a $100 million upgrade of its runway and fuel systems in the largest NATO funded airfield construction project within a NATO country since the end of the Cold War; this work lasted from May 2000 through May 2002. Additional improvements continued until 2008, including the construction of two climate-controlled hangars for B-2 stealth bombers and a low-observability maintenance dock. On 14 January 2004, the 420th Air Base Group was established at RAF Fairford to improve the control of its geographically separated units, aligned beneath the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall; these units are assigned to airfields at RAF Fairford, RAF Croughton, RAF Alconbury, RAF Molesworth.
The 420 ABG reported directly to Third Air Force until 26 May 2004, when the 38th Combat Support Wing was established at S
Cricklade is a small Cotswold town and civil parish on the River Thames in north Wiltshire, midway between Swindon and Cirencester. It is the first town on the Thames; the parish population at the 2011 census was 4,227. Cricklade's Latin motto In Loco Delicioso means "in a pleasant place". In 2008 the town was awarded Best Small Town in UK in the Royal Horticultural Society's Britain in Bloom Finals and in 2011 the Champion of Champions award in the Britain in Bloom competition, it hosts the annual Cricklade Show. The large Jubilee Clock was erected in 1898 in honour of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in the preceding year, it stands outside the Vale Hotel in High Street. There are two sculptures of the Holy Cross in Cricklade, one in the churchyard of St Sampson's, the other at St Mary's. There is local rivalry about, believed to be older. Cricklade was founded in the 9th century by the Anglo-Saxons, at the point where the Roman road Ermin Way crossed the River Thames, it was the home of a royal mint from 979 to 1100.
The Domesday Book records Cricklade as the meeting place of Cricklade Hundred in 1086. It is one of thirty burhs recorded in the Burghal Hidage document, which describes a system of fortresses and fortified towns built around Wessex by King Alfred. Recent research has suggested that these burhs were built in the short period 878–79, to defend Wessex against the Vikings under Guthrum, to act as an offensive to the Viking presence in Mercia, it is argued that the completion of this system – of which Cricklade was a key military element, being a short distance down Ermin Street from Cirencester, the Viking base for a year – precipitated the retreat of the Vikings from Mercia and London to East Anglia, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in late 879. The square defences of the fortification were laid out on a regular module, they have been excavated in several places on all four of its sides since the 1940s, making this is the most extensively sampled fortification of the period. In the initial phase, a walkway of laid stones marked the rear of a bank of stacked turfs and clay, derived from the three external ditches.
In the second phase, the front of the bank, which after only a short period of time had become somewhat degraded, was replaced by a stone wall. This encircled the defences on all four of its sides; the manpower needed to build this was similar to what was needed to build the original turf and clay defences. It would have strengthened the defensive capabilities of the burh, it has been suggested that it was inserted in the 890s. Other burhs of the Burghal Hidage were strengthened with stone walls, which suggests this was part of a systematic upgrade of the defensive provisions for Wessex, ordered at the time by the king; the third phase is marked by systematic razing of the stone wall, pulled down over the inner berm. Stones from it were used to fill the inner two ditches. A similar phase can be seen in the archaeological record at Christchurch, another burh of the Burghal Hidage. Observations at other burhs suggest that this phase of destruction was implemented over the whole of Wessex, must therefore have been the result of a concerted policy, again by inference on the part of the king.
The most reasonable historical context for this seems to be accession of King Cnut in the early 11th century, to prevent the burhs being seized and used against him by his rivals. The fourth phase is marked by reuse of the original Anglo Saxon defences by inserting a timber palisade along the line of the original wall; this marks a renewal of the defences of the town during the civil war of 1144 under King Stephen. There is little archaeological evidence of the community protected by these defences in the Saxon period. There is some sign that streets were laid out in a regular fashion behind the main north–south High Street; this led through a gate in the northern line of the defences to a causeway over the flood plain of the Thames to a bridge over the river, of a defensive nature. On John Speed's map of Wiltshire, the town's name is recorded as Crekelade. Cricklade Museum houses several publications recounting further historical details of the town and its people; the civil parish elects a town council.
It is in the area of Wiltshire Council unitary authority, which performs most significant local government functions. Outlying hamlets in Cricklade parish are Calcutt, Chelworth Lower Green, Chelworth Upper Green, Hailstone Hill and Horsey Down. There is an electoral ward with the name of Cricklade and Latton, which combines Cricklade parish with its neighbours to the north east: Latton and Marston Maisey; the population of the ward recorded in the 2011 census was 4,982. The parish is in the North Wiltshire parliamentary constituency. From 1295 the Cricklade constituency returned two members of parliament; this parliamentary borough represented just the town until 1782, when its boundaries were extended into the surrounding countryside. It came to include Swindon a village. In 1885, Cricklade became a county constituency electing a single member. Cricklade constituency was abolished in 1918, with the town joining Chippenham, renamed to North Wiltshire in 1983 and had its boundaries redrawn in 2010, when Chippenham was given its own seat.
The club was founded in 1992 by ex-school players from many schools, meeting at the bar of the Vale Hotel, Cricklade owned by ex-President and life members the Ross family. Players wer
Wiltshire is a county in South West England with an area of 3,485 km2. It is landlocked and borders the counties of Dorset, Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Berkshire; the county town was Wilton, after which the county is named, but Wiltshire Council is now based in the county town of Trowbridge. Wiltshire is characterised by its high wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is noted for being the location of the Stonehenge and Avebury stone circles and other ancient landmarks, as a training area for the British Army; the city of Salisbury is notable for its medieval cathedral. Important country houses open to the public include Longleat, near Warminster, the National Trust's Stourhead, near Mere; the county, in the 9th century written as Wiltunscir Wiltonshire, is named after the former county town of Wilton. Wiltshire is notable for its pre-Roman archaeology; the Mesolithic and Bronze Age people that occupied southern Britain built settlements on the hills and downland that cover Wiltshire. Stonehenge and Avebury are the most famous Neolithic sites in the UK.
In the 6th and 7th centuries Wiltshire was at the western edge of Saxon Britain, as Cranborne Chase and the Somerset Levels prevented the advance to the west. The Battle of Bedwyn was fought in 675 between Escuin, a West Saxon nobleman who had seized the throne of Queen Saxburga, King Wulfhere of Mercia. In 878 the Danes invaded the county. Following the Norman Conquest, large areas of the country came into the possession of the crown and the church. At the time of the Domesday Survey the industry of Wiltshire was agricultural. In the succeeding centuries sheep-farming was vigorously pursued, the Cistercian monastery of Stanley exported wool to the Florentine and Flemish markets in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 17th century English Civil War Wiltshire was Parliamentarian; the Battle of Roundway Down, a Royalist victory, was fought near Devizes. In 1794 it was decided at a meeting at the Bear Inn in Devizes to raise a body of ten independent troops of Yeomanry for the county of Wiltshire, which formed the basis for what would become the Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, who served with distinction both at home and abroad, during the Boer War, World War I and World War II.
The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry lives on as Y Squadron, based in Swindon, B Squadron, based in Salisbury, of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry. Around 1800 the Kennet and Avon Canal was built through Wiltshire, providing a route for transporting cargoes from Bristol to London until the development of the Great Western Railway. Information on the 261 civil parishes of Wiltshire is available on Wiltshire Council's Wiltshire Community History website which has maps, demographic data and modern pictures and short histories; the local nickname for Wiltshire natives is "Moonrakers". This originated from a story of smugglers who managed to foil the local Excise men by hiding their alcohol French brandy in barrels or kegs, in a village pond; when confronted by the excise men they raked the surface to conceal the submerged contraband with ripples, claimed that they were trying to rake in a large round cheese visible in the pond a reflection of the full moon. The officials took them for simple yokels or mad and left them alone, allowing them to continue with their illegal activities.
Many villages claim the tale for their own village pond, but the story is most linked with The Crammer in Devizes. Two-thirds of Wiltshire, a rural county, lies on chalk, a kind of soft, porous limestone, resistant to erosion, giving it a high chalk downland landscape; this chalk is part of a system of chalk downlands throughout eastern and southern England formed by the rocks of the Chalk Group and stretching from the Dorset Downs in the west to Dover in the east. The largest area of chalk in Wiltshire is Salisbury Plain, used for arable agriculture and by the British Army as training ranges; the highest point in the county is the Tan Hill–Milk Hill ridge in the Pewsey Vale, just to the north of Salisbury Plain, at 295 m above sea level. The chalk uplands run northeast into West Berkshire in the Marlborough Downs ridge, southwest into Dorset as Cranborne Chase. Cranborne Chase, which straddles the border, like Salisbury Plain, yielded much Stone Age and Bronze Age archaeology; the Marlborough Downs are part of a 1,730 km2 conservation area.
In the northwest of the county, on the border with South Gloucestershire and Bath and North East Somerset, the underlying rock is the resistant oolite limestone of the Cotswolds. Part of the Cotswolds AONB is in Wiltshire, in the county's northwestern corner. Between the areas of chalk and limestone downland are clay vales; the largest of these vales is the Avon Vale. The Avon cuts diagonally through the north of the county, flowing through Bradford-on-Avon and into Bath and Bristol; the Vale of Pewsey has been cut through the chalk into Greensand and Oxford Clay in the centre of the county. In the south west of the county is the Vale of Wardour; the southeast of the county lies on the sandy soils of the northernmost area of the New Forest. Chalk is a porous rock, so the chalk hills have little surface water; the main settlements in the county are therefore situated at wet points. Notably, Salisbury is situated between the chalk of marshy flood plains; the county has green belt along its western fringes as a part of the extensive Avon green belt, reaching as far as the outskirts of Rudloe/Corsham and Trowbridge, preventing urban spr
RAF Brize Norton
Royal Air Force Brize Norton or RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, about 75 mi west north-west of London, is the largest station of the Royal Air Force. It is close to the settlements of Brize Norton and Witney; the station is home to Air Transport, Air-to-Air refuelling and Military Parachuting, with aircraft operating from the station including the Lockheed C-130 Hercules, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, Airbus A400M Atlas and Airbus Voyager which replaced the now-decommissioned Vickers VC10 in September 2013 and the Lockheed TriStar in March 2014. Major infrastructure redevelopment began in 2010 ahead of the closure of RAF Lyneham in 2012, at which point Brize Norton became the sole air point of embarkation for British troops. By the end of June 2011 all flying units from RAF Lyneham had moved to RAF Brize Norton. Construction of RAF Brize Norton began in 1935 with the official opening taking place on 13 August 1937; the station was to be named RAF Carterton, given its proximity and relationship with the town of the same name, but was instead named RAF Brize Norton to avoid possible confusion with RAF Cardington in Bedfordshire.
The station's first unit, No. 2 Flying Training School transferred from RAF Digby in Lincolnshire on 7 September 1937. On 10 October 1938, 2 FTS was joined by No. 6 Maintenance Unit. One of the first operational squadrons to use the airfield was No. 110 Squadron, based at RAF Wattisham but a detachment used Brize Norton from June 1939 with the Bristol Blenheim Mks I and IV. 2 FTS was renamed No. 2 Service Flying Training School in September 1939, when it re-equipped with the Airspeed Oxford. No. 16 Service Training School, equipped with North American Harvards moved to Brize Norton in June 1940. On 16 August, the airfield was attacked by German bombers, with 35 Oxfords and 11 Hawker Hurricanes destroyed. 16 SFTS left that year, but 2 SFTS and 6 MU continued to use the airfield, with No. 1525 Beam Approach Training Flight arriving in February 1942. The No. 110 Squadron detachment left Brize Norton on 17 March 1942, when the squadron departed for the Far East. The two flying training units left on 16 July 1942 to make way for a new user, the Heavy Glider Conversion Unit, equipped with Whitley glider tugs and Horsa gliders.
No. 296 Squadron and No. 297 Squadron both moved in on 14 March 1944 with their Armstrong Whitworth Albemarles, displacing the Heavy Glider Conversion Unit, which moved to RAF North Luffenham. The two Squadrons took part in the Invasion of France on 6 June 1944 and Operation Market Garden in September 1944, before No. 296 Squadron added the Handley Page Halifax V to their inventory and moved to RAF Earls Colne on 29 September 1944. No. 297 Squadron moved to Earls Colne a day later. The HGCU returned on 15 October 1944, remaining at Brize Norton until 31 December 1945; the Transport Command Development Unit moved in during 1946, operating a variety of equipment until it departed in June 1949. No. 297 Squadron returned after the Second World War ended, on 5 September 1946 with the Halifax Mks A.7 and A.9 from RAF Tarrant Rushton before leaving on 21 August 1947 for RAF Fairford. After the TCDU left in June 1949, 2 Squadron of the Central Flying School, equipped with Harvards, moved in, followed by No. 204 Advanced Flying School, equipped with de Havilland Mosquitos, staying at Brize Norton until March and June 1950 respectively.
By 1950 elements of Strategic Air Command were based at RAF Lakenheath, RAF Marham, RAF Sculthorpe. The increasing tension of the Cold War led to a re-evaluation of these deployments. By 1953 SAC bombers began to move further west, behind RAF fighter forces, to Brize Norton, RAF Greenham Common, RAF Upper Heyford, RAF Fairford; as with the other stations it occupied, SAC invested in extending the runway and dispersals, as well as constructing accommodation and weapons handling facilities. This work was completed in April 1951; the station was transferred from USAFE to SAC effective from 8 December 1952. 30th Air Depot Wing became the 3rd Air Force unit responsible for control of all personnel at Brize Norton, upon receipt of instructions to control base functions. The station was assigned to the 7th Air Division and operated by the 3920th Air Base Group, renamed as the 3920th Combat Support Group, the 3920th Strategic Wing in 1964; the 3920th ceased operations in 1965. The first major USAF deployment was that of 21 Convair B-36 Peacemaker strategic bombers of the 11th Bomb Wing for eight days in June 1952.
Boeing B-29 Superfortress and the KB-29 tanker variant of the 301st Bombardment Wing were based at Brize Norton on temporary duty from December 1952 to April 1953. From September 1953, units equipped with the Boeing B-47E Stratojet six-engined bombers began to be deployed to Brize Norton on 90-day temporary deployments, with boom-equipped Boeing KC-97G Stratofreighters being deployed in support from December 1954. Brize Norton was closed for runway repairs in 1956. B-47 Stratojets returned in July 1957. Deployments included KC-97 and Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and the first Convair B-58 Hustler and Boeing B-52 Stratofortress bombers to land in the United Kingdom. From 1958, B-47 deployments changed from 90-day temporary deployments to 30-day Reflex Alerts, in which the aircraft did little flying, but were held at a high degree of readiness on special aprons on the south side of the airbase. In September 1964, the USAF announced that Reflex operations would cease and that Brize Norton would be handed back to the RAF.
With RAF Lyneham, the home of RAF Transport Command's Bristol Britannia and De Havilland Comet fleets operating at capacity, the planned introducti