Nuclear Glossop

Nuclear bunker

I was futzing around on the web looking for something else entirely when I found this site which catalogues all of the 1563 Royal Observer Corps bunkers that are scattered over the UK. The history of the ROC is fascinating - they were originally set up in 1925 to visually report and track any enemy aircraft flying over the UK. At the height of the Cold War in 1957 they became part of the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation (UKWMO), the intention being that in case of a nuclear attack they would report the location and extent of the bombs that were dropped on the UK. To this end a chain of small three-man bunkers were built across the UK, so naturally I had a look to see where the closest one was to me, and to my astonishment it was less than 400m from my house! Most of the posts stuck to to a standard design - in the photo above you can see the top of the entry shaft in front of the telegraph pole, to the front and right of the entry shaft is the blanked-off pipe that held a radiation counter. There's also a smaller pipe lower down in the grass which was the input port for the blast overpressure gauge. To the right of that (with the baffles) is the top of the air ventilator. This particular bunker was decommissioned in 1991, shortly before the ROC was itself disbanded.

The bunkers were small and cramped - there was no mains electricity, no water supply and the toilet facilities consisted of a bucket, and quite often they were damp as well. I'm not sure just how effective they would have been had anyone actually dropped anything that went 'bang' in a serious fashion - the telegraph pole in the picture above was in fact the only communications mechanism when the bunker was originally commissioned, and lengths of dead pine tree with wire strung between them doesn't seem to be a particularly blast-proof communications system to my untrained eye! Perhaps the most unenviable job in the post was that of the 3rd observer who, shortly after the attack, had to climb out of the bunker and retrieve the photographic paper from the Ground Zero Indicator (GZI), which was basically a pinhole camera - the fireball of the detonation would burn marks on the graduated paper inside the GZI, and from that the position and altitude of the detonation could be determined. If that wasn't bad enough, he was also responsible for hauling the chemical toilet up the 15 foot entrance shaft and disposing of the contents!

Categories : Peak District