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The Story of Greenham Common

Local historian Penny Stokes spoke tonight (26th Feb 2018) on "The Story of Greenham Common." Penny noted that although we often think of RAF Greenham Common there is much more history tot he area, an area that technically is Greenham and Crookham Commons. There was once common land stretching along the length of the southern border of Berkshire, much of little interest or of use for farming. In 1872 one of the biggest military maneuvers took place with over 16,000 soldiers encamped on the common for two days. Two hundred years prior Parliamentarian soldiers would have been moving across the area too. Penny was keen to point out that it is more than just military who used the land, there were bare knuckle fights taking place along with steeple chasing in the nineteenth century. In 1873 Crookham became home to the first inland golf course in the country.

The RAF took control of the common in 1940 with the USAF moving if a little later. The base became home in 1977 to the Air Tattoo. By 1983 Cruise Missiles were housed at the base. By 1997 though the site had been purchased and was in the process of being handed back to the people, or at least part of it was.