A Brief History

The first record of a weapons range at Wainfleet appears in 1890 when the marshes were used for artillery practice by the 1st Lincolnshire Artillery. However, it is believed that cannon and musketry practice was carried out as far back as Napoleonic times when the river Steeping was still navigable and Wainfleet was an important port.

In 1891 a set of bye-laws were published which defined the area of the range as:
"The foreshore and sands bounded by the Nottingham House Hotel at Freiston shore to the High Horn Buoy and on the north-east by a line drawn from the Wainfleet Goose Lane pull-over to the Wainfleet buoy."

Contravention of the bye-laws attracted a fine of £5 - a considerable sum of money in those days!

The area was used for aircraft armament training from 1914 - 1918, initially by RNAS aircraft from HMS Deadalus (now RAF Cranwell) and from No.4 School of Aerial Fighting based at Freiston. There is evidence that the marshes were used for weapons training by both RAF and the Royal Artillery during the 1920s and 30s. Recently an 18lb artillery shell dating from 1925 was ploughed up on reclaimed land close to Wainfleet - it was kept in a packing shed until someone discovered it was live!

RAF Wainfleet opened again as an aerial bombing and gunnery range in August 1938. A temporary accommodation site was constructed at Sea Lane, Wainfleet which remained in constant use until the site was closed in 1991. During the 2nd WW Wainfleet was used as a practice range by all types of aircraft engaged in the war effort.

Post war the area was used to dispose of bombs and ammunitions of all types. At that time the marshes were of marginal value and there was little thought or control over the environment. The construction of the new sea bank in 1978 revealed the ordnance again when the farmers began ploughing the reclaimed land. In recent years a number of 25lb shells have been recovered including live HE and some expended smoke rounds. An expended 250lb Target Indicator was also recovered and may now be seen at the East Kirkby Aviation Heritage Centre.

During the post war years the range had been used extensively by all types of military aircraft from Lincolns, Canberras, Vulcans and Jaguars to the Tornados and Harriers of the modern RAF. With the recent changes in the balance of power, range activity had decreased, particularly with the withdrawal of the USAF A10 Tank-busters and F-111 aircraft from UK bases and the withdrawal of the Jaguar from the RAF inventory. However on most days you could see F-15s, Tornado, Harrier and RAF and USAF helicopters in action on the range. It was expected that the Typhoon will be a more frequent visitor but then came the closure of the range on 3rd December 2009.

The Range


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