RAF Handforth

RAF Handforth, 61MU, was an RAF maintenace Unit & stores depot started in 1939 at Handforth, just north of Wilmslow. It was dispersed over several sites between Handforth, Cheadle Hulme, and Woodford.

The Officers Mess of 61MU was on Grove Lane, Cheadle Hulme, the place is now a park adjacent to The Smithy pub.

Sites off Gill Bent Road and Stanley Road, Cheadle Hulme, provided living accommodation in Nissen Huts, but the main body of 61MU, its working area, was in a large site to the south of Spath Lane. That was in Handforth although its main entrance was off Hall Moss Lane, Woodford, near the entrance to Spath Lane. It had a railway connection via a branch line, one of two which left the main line just south of Stanley Road, Cheadle Hulme. This became the 42 Armoured Vehicle Depot and closed in September 1958.

James Feest reveals that RAF Handforth was then at the cutting edge of computer technology: "I was posted to 61MU in early 1948 where I was trained as a 'punch card' clerk. There was a huge mechanical Hollerith computer housed in a large building where we put coded info onto special cards, the info being coded by WAAFs. once proved correct they were fed into the computers system, which ( I think) was where the records of all the equipment being stored & sent to RAF units. In fact by 1948 much of the large store hangers were partially derelict - yet we had to do regular guard nights guarding mostly old service junk.

When I first got there in the very cold winter of 1948 we were billeted in Nissan Huts on a road in Bramhall, where it was so clod at night we were issued with 6 - 8 blankets each! But in the spring we were ( to our relief) moved to RAF Wilmslow to a set of huts near the cinema (and well away from the bullshit of the recruits training wing). However in late July 1948 I posted to spend the rest of my RAF National Service in Germany."

Lesley Baxendale provided the following story: "When 61MU closed after the war ended, there was a fairly new building on site, which cost around £2000 (so local rumour has it). So as not to waste this money & to relieve the congestion on the RAF's London premises, a department of the MOD Central Civilian Pay & Record Office was relocated to Grove Lane, where there was also a depot of the Ministry of Public Buildings & Works (later the PSA - Property Services Agency) and a Data Processing Centre. I worked there, in the pay office, in the 1970's. We paid RAF civilian staff from all over the British Isles and also Met Office staff. By the time I left in 1977, we were paying civilian 'industrial' staff from both the RAF and the Army.

The entrance to the pay office was via Dairy House Lane, at the junction of Grove Lane & Moor Lane.

By that time, much of the land was returning to nature and most of the buildings outside our little patch were either demolished or derelict, but there were still signs of the railway lines and roads crossing the site, with a couple of sets of level crossing gates stood like sentries in the middle of fields. We used to walk across to Hanforth Hall at lunchtimes & although it was sad to see it all overgrown, it was a pleasant place to stroll.

Since then, most of the land has been sold off and now has houses and the new A34 Handforth By-pass on it. The pay office is still there though, and as far as I know, still going strong."

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