RAF Watnall

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RAF Watnall
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Near Watnall, Nottinghamshire in England
RAF Fighter Command Group 12 Watnall Bunker (4).jpg
Entrance to the Filter Bunker
RAF Watnall is located in Nottinghamshire
RAF Watnall
RAF Watnall
Shown within Nottinghamshire
Coordinates53°00′22″N 1°14′49″W / 53.006°N 1.247°W / 53.006; -1.247Coordinates: 53°00′22″N 1°14′49″W / 53.006°N 1.247°W / 53.006; -1.247
TypeRoyal Air Force station
Site information
OwnerAir Ministry
OperatorRoyal Air Force
Site history
Built1939 (1939)
In use1939-1945 (1945)
Battles/warsSecond World War
Garrison information
OccupantsNo. 12 Group RAF

RAF Watnall was the operational headquarters of No. 12 Group, RAF Fighter Command in Nottinghamshire.


The station was established in Spring 1940 to act as headquarters for No. 12 Group whose area encompassed the Midlands, Norfolk, Lincolnshire and North Wales.[1] The Operations Centre of No. 12 Group was housed there in three buildings (Operations Room, Filter Room and Communications Centre), which were partially buried for protection, in a similar way to buildings for No. 9 Group RAF at RAF Barton Hall, No. 10 Group at RAF Box, No. 11 Group at RAF Uxbridge, No. 13 Group RAF at RAF Newcastle and No. 14 Group RAF at Raigmore House.[1]

Operations room (53°00′22″N 1°15′04″W / 53.006°N 1.251°W / 53.006; -1.251 (Operations room))
The operations room, responsible for directing RAF aircraft in the No. 12 Group area, was located in a bunker on the east side of the main road in Watnall.[1] It was fully operational by 1940 and closed in 1946.[1] It is now flooded and the site above is now occupied by a vehicle testing centre.[1]

Filter room (53°00′11″N 1°14′49″W / 53.003°N 1.247°W / 53.003; -1.247 (Filter room))
The Filter room, responsible for filtering large quantities of intelligence on enemy activity before it was passed to the operations room, was located in a bunker 0.3 miles further south on a sunken road off the main road in Watnall. It did not open until 1943.[1] After the war it continued to be used as an early warning centre until it closed in 1961.[1] The filter block was sold by auction in 2008 and is now being redeveloped as a hotel. An episode of The Restoration Man presented by George Clarke, which was aired on Channel 4 on 12 February 2014, described the progress of the development.[2]

The Communications centre has not been found.[1]

RAF units and aircraft[edit]

Unit Dates Notes
No. 12 Group 1940-1946 Part of Fighter Command[3]
No. 81 (Training) Group 1952-1952 Controlled Fighter Command training units[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "RAF Watnall : Fighter Command's 12 Group HQ". Subterranea Britannica. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  2. ^ "Restoration Man: Secret bunker is given stunning TV makeover". Nottingham Post. 12 February 2014. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b Sturtivant, Ray (2007), RAF Flying Training and Support Units since 1912, Air-Britain, ISBN 0-85130-365-X, p. 152

External links[edit]