raf wyton | photograping the photography | then and now
18|05|02 & 18|10|07

And a final shot of the chimney, and Offkilter who was now standing on the roof. I was standing by the big pile of rubble, which is the fate of this whole site in the next year or so.

An interesting day.

© Simon Cornwell 2002

"Ref your visit to the 'tin mine' at RAF Wyton. I worked there in 1960 when I was a photographer and after seeing your photos of the place it brought back a lot of good memories.

We used to develop and print films from the V Bombers, the films where 1000 ft long and a foot wide. We were known for some time as the Penguins -- all flap and no fly as we always took longer to turn a V Bomber around and get back in the sky with new cameras on board.

I seem to remember our time was eleven minutes and RAF Brampton did it in nine. If my memory serves me right we ended up as King Penguins by doing it in seven minutes.Tthere was a great amount of good atmosphere there working with the Americans and sometimes getting a day's notice of being sent to Kenya or Canada.

The moral was great there was no bull or anything as long as we pulled our weight when it was needed.

A couple of things that come to mind:

  • There were two separate buildings. The other was for RAF police dog training. (This is the demolished part - Simon).
  • The photographic building had extra taps like hot and cold water in large bosh like sinks but these had developer and fix running through them. They were made up in a room that had large vats and was at the end of that corridor that you took photos of near the front door. So you just turned on the taps in every dark room for the chemicals that were required.
  • There were anything between 30 to 50 people working in the building.

Anyway thanks for letting me see the photos they were great."


"The Tin Mine" was part of JARIC - Joint Air Reconnaissance and Intelligence Centre - at Brampton. As you can imagine, over the years the RAF took quite a lot of reconnaissance films and they are (or were) all stored in tins, on racks, in a dedicated air conditioned underground bunker, hence the term "Tin Mine"!!! The Wyton building was always known as "The Factory"."


"I ran the laboratory (which does not appear on your web-site info) for 9 months in 1958/9.

My i/c was Chief Tech Eggleston, but as I was a qualified chemist, as a National Serviceman, I ran the show.

The area with a raised balcony was in fact the room where 500 gallon tanks of rinse/developer/rinse/fixer/rinse were sited.

My job was to take routine samples from each tank, anaylse them for active chemical depletion, and make up a replenishment mixture for each tank to ensure its capability.

Incidentally, part of the development process involves the removal of silver salts, and the development tank was fitted with electrolysis anode/cathode terminals to separate out silver metal which was the periodically collected by a contracted firm of Hatton Garden jewellers.

My major endeavour, being a national serviceman with absolutley no commitment to the future of the nation was to volunteer for the incineration of secret/confidential photo material on a Friday morning, which enabled me (under the protection of colleagues) to go AWOL on my motorcycle and be home in Cheshire by lunchtime on that day.

I have since visited the 'factory' and at my last viewing!!!! Well say no more - just keep the memories."

SAC George Wood 5056449

"Re: Terry's notes: NO, NO, NO, RAF Brampton was about 5 miles from the Wyton Photo Factory and was never a processing unit. There was no way that Brampton serviced V-Bombers or anything else.

The Officers mess at RAF Brampton was the original country home of Samuel Pepys (him of the diary).

RAF Bramptom was never operational and was in fact the HQ of photo intelligence, reading sense into all that the Wyton photo facility threw at it. The suggestion that V-Bomber turnround was a contest is absurd.

Photo material was processed in the factory as it was delivered, there was no 'feedback' to the squadron as to when they could 'photo re-arm' and get more shoots. In fact the vast majority of the material came from 58 Squadron which flew PR 9's Canberras (PR standing for Photo Recconaisance).

These PR 9 Canberras had the cockpit 'windscreen' set at and angle looking over the side of the fuselage so that the pilot could see where his cameras were aimed."

SAC George Wood 5056449

2008: This final shot shows the true extent of the western and southern sections of the building. This was taken as a comparison shot for an archival picture I found in a Cold War book. In that shot, the building was still intact and entirely boarded up. The years have certainly taken its toll.