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Many detailed accounts have been written about the history of the Royal Air Force; the heroic exploits of their Squadrons, some more famous than others; and of their airfields. However, little has been written of the important part played by the support units and this account seeks to redress the imbalance of one particular support unit.
RAF Woodcote was built in 1941 and established in 1942 and has been described as an Equipment Dispersal Depot, an Equipment Distributing Depot, a Ground Equipment Depot, a Dispersed Aircraft Depot; all as part of its role as a Maintenance Unit. In fact its purpose throughout was a Maintenance Unit whose role, which is described later on, diminished in its twilight years. It was known as 70MU under the control of No.40 Group, Maintenance Command. After the war it became part of 3 MU Milton and was known as '8 Site 3 MU' and then '7 Site 3 MU'. Finally it was closed in 1959 when it no longer served a practical purpose.
It will be found in South Oxfordshire, just north of Reading, Berkshire. For ease of identification on an Ordnance Survey map the site falls within the SU grid references: -
North West SU640820
North East SU670820
South West SU640790
South East SU670790
To pin point the nearest identifiable buildings on a map you will find that the following eight figure SU grid references will show the most Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western buildings. There are no boundary fences or indications of a boundary on Ordnance Survey maps.
Northern building SU64808080 (Woodcote)
Southern building SU65307930 (Goring Heath)
Eastern building SU66108140 (Exlade Street)
Western building SU64008040 (Crays Pond)
Understandably the Ordnance Survey maps, 1:50000 series, both wartime and current issues do not give any detail of the site, but the 1:25000 series do. The 1964 series shows all the buildings still standing whereas the 1990 Pathfinder edition and the 1994 Explorer edition each show the bases of the buildings as dotted lines.
The site, which covers over 176 acres of land, borders the road from Crays Pond to Goring Heath, Woodcote to Goring Heath and Exlade Street to Goring Heath although very little remains visible from the road, and that which is, is in private ownership. The condition of the site is deteriorating rapidly being derelict and overgrown and most buildings have been demolished for safety reasons. There are a few remaining buildings in a fair condition although one that was used by a local farmer lost its roof in the 1987 hurricane.