April 1, 2011 | Posted in ARP, British Steel, Bunker, Civil Defence, Cobalt 60, Corby, corus, facebook, isotope, Nuclear, PDRM82, PLUTO, radiation, secret bunker, Steelworks, stewarts lloyds, tata steel, underground hospital, WW2, x-ray | By sYnc
First of all apologies for some of the photo’s, some of these are among the worst I have ever taken. If you read the report you will see why I can’t go back and retake them, this reason also justifies their use here.
Plenty of people visit this site, write inaccurate reports and often wrongly referred to it as a ‘Secret’ Nuclear Bunker, the reality is much more boring than that and confusion also arises due to its many uses over the last 60 years.I thought I would make an attempt to set the record straight and dig up some history of this brilliant site which the local chav scum have sadly slowly trashed in recent years.
Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd moved to Corby, Northamptonshire in November 1932, enabling them to make use of the local iron ore to feed their blast furnaces and Bessemer steel converters. The new construction was carried out to a very tight timetable, from the clearing of the site in 1933 the first of the Corby blast furnaces was lit in May the following year. This was followed by coke from the new coke ovens the following month and the ore preparation and sinter plants in September. No.2 blast furnace was lit in November and the first steel came from the Bessemer converters on 27th December. The last of the originally planned blast furnaces (No.3) was lit in October 1935. Following a rebuild to increase capacity of No.2 furnace Corby works became the third cheapest pig iron producing plant in the world.
After the outbreak of World War II, much of the output was war-related. Possibly the biggest contribution of the works to the war effort was PLUTO, the Pipe Line Under The Ocean
, a pipeline built, following the D-Day landings to supply fuel for the invading forces. Almost 1,000 miles of steel tubes went into the project.
Incidentally, and creeping Off Topic, they built and named a Pub in Corby called The Pluto as a tribute, it became yet another violent drinking establishment and was eventually demolished 🙂
Another large Stewarts & Lloyds contribution was the 15,000 miles of tube, used for the construction of beach defences, and which was covered with barbed wire, and other, more dangerous obstructions, known as “Wallace Swords”. A total of over 275,000 miles (about 2,5 million tons) of tube were produced for war-related work during the 1939-45 period.
During World War 2 the Corby steel works were expected to be a major target for German bombers but in reality there were only a few bombs dropped by solitary planes and there were no reported casualties. This may be because the whole area was blanketed in huge dense black, low lying clouds created artificially by the intentional burning of oil and latex to hide the glowing Bessemer converter furnaces at the steel works from German bomber crews. There are also some fairly reliable reports that a proper QF Decoy site may have existed at Geddington Chase to protect the Works.
In the early 1940’s as a result of this very real threat the Air Raid Precautions (ARP) constructed an underground Control Centre for the workforce of Stewarts & Lloyds and it was used until the end of the war as well as housing the Stewarts & Lloyds ARP ambulance. The Control Centre comprised of two entrances in case of bomb damage, a central turntable to rotate the ambulance and send it out via the opposite entrance, 4 chemical toilets, a Plotting Room and Signals Room (with interconnecting message hatches), Messengers Room, Telephone Exchange linked to Radio Room, Control Room, Generator Room and a Ventilation Plant.
It shut in 1944 but re-opened in 1951 as a Civil Defence Headquarters for Stewarts & Lloyds and also as Sub Divisional Control for Northamptonshire Civil Defence (there are still some laminated door panels for this laying around the site to this day – see pix below). Also during this time it acted as one of many First Aid Posts across the Steelworks site and still had an ambulance garaged there. My Father In Law who used to work for Stewarts & Lloyds ‘thinks’ he remembers going in there for treatment on a number of occasions and it might be stories like this that led to inaccurate rumours of it being an underground hospital propagating.
When the Civil Defence Scheme was wound down in the late 60’s the site was used for Stewarts & Lloyds Research & Development and almost everything remaining in the site today relates to this, apart from the odd piece of telecoms and switching equipment. A large amount of radiography equipment can be found and was used to X-ray iron castings and steel fabrication, the floors are still littered with tube samples and castings. In the 1958 edition of Corby Works (published by Stewarts & Lloyds) there is a chapter on The Department of Research and Technical Development where it says ‘Use is made of the most modern equipment, as this becomes available, and in particular, includes modern spectrographs, equipment for vacuum fusion analysis of gases in steel, equipment for high frequency induction melting under controlled conditions of atmosphere and pressure, apparatus for the identification of compounds, space lattice measurements, and internal stress determination by X-ray crystallography, gamma ray testing of welds using new isotopes from Harwell, and the latest designs of creep testing equipment working under temperature controlled conditions’. Add to this Jib Testing and Weld Testing for the many Ransomes & Rapier Walking Draglines that worked in the various Ironstone Quarries in Corby.
The original main entrance was destroyed in 1975 when the A43 was widened and turned into a Dual Carriageway, the entrance tunnel was backfilled and part way down a double course brick wall was built. Recent, ‘intellectually challenged’ visitors have made an attempt to breach this wall in true Darwin Award
style without doing their homework, if they had they would clearly see where the sealed entrance actually comes out and also see there is about 100 tonnes of rubble between the two points, thus saving them a few quid on their cheap B&Q hammers and chisels…
The end of Stewarts & Lloyds ownership ceased in 1967 when the steel industry was nationalised for the second time and they became part of the British Steel Corporation. Due to the high cost and low quality of local iron ore coming out of the quarries and mines, steel production at Corby was set to close in November 1979. This was delayed until 21 May 1980, due to the national steel strike, when the last coil came off the strip mills. In nearly 40 years of steel production they had produced almost 2.5 million tons of steel. By the end of 1981 5000 people were unemployed almost overnight as a result of the closure and by the end of the 80’s this figure reached 11,000. Most of the original 5 square mile site was demolished during the 1980’s to make way for the Corby you see today (Phoenix Retail Park
and Phoenix Park Way Industrial Estate) but thankfully due to its location this site survived.
On the 6th October 1999 the Corus Group was formed through the merger of Koninklijke Hoogovens and British Steel and the Tubeworks continued at the site. On Tuesday, 27 July 2004 in an ironic twist the BBC ran a story
about new owners Corus making an appeal for information about the ‘secret World War II bunker’ as they didn’t know what the underground tunnels were for 🙂
Not long after this the original gates were replaced by a very heavy duty permanent grille, welded to the walls.
In 2007 Corus was acquired by Indian company Tata and on 27 September 2010 Corus announced it was changing its name to Tata Steel Europe and adopting the Tata corporate identity.
These days after several fires, one badly burning out what was originally the Messengers & Liason room, and local morons getting in there and smashing things up the site is in quite a sorry state. The original (sealed) main entrance tunnel is full of items dumped from various decades but if you take the time to look there’s still some interesting things scattered about.
We took a couple of Plessey PDRM82’s in there and tried really hard to get any sort of reading at all from every single room and piece of equipment but the display didn’t register anything. I know they are not the most sensitive devices for background radiation but its probably safe to ignore all the scaremongering that has been reported about this site.
Original Main Entrance
Castell remote locking switch
Phillips DXI Portable X-Ray Unit
Linderode Saturn Spark Erosion machine
Linderode Saturn Spark Erosion machine
Phillips DXI Portable X-Ray Unit
Phillips DXI Portable X-Ray Unit
Old Telephone Exchange
Large Carl Drenck ‘Fedrex’ X-Ray Tube
Original Control Room
Isotope Trolley (Generator Room)
Original Ventilation Plant Room
Generator Room Blast Doors
British Contamination Meter, No. 1 set
A week before Christmas 2010 the ARP Control Centre was completely welded shut (see last two pictures below), oh and someone stole the nice 1940’s light from outside…
August 12, 2010 | Posted in Bunker, FSM, Nuclear, Observation Post, PDRM82, Plessey, ROC, Royal Observer Corps | By sYnc
Back at the start of the Cold War the first mass produced Civil Defence Geiger Counter was the Geiger-Müller counter Meter, Contamination, No. 1 set – stock number 5CG0012, of 1953. You still see these from time to time and many remained in use into the 1980’s. It was replaced in 1956 by the British Radiac Survey Meter No 2 which was adopted by the Royal Observer Corps until they took delivery of the better known and specifically built Fixed Survey Meter.
In 1982 Plessey Controls introduced the PDRM82 Portable Dose Rate Meter and this became standard issue for both Civil Defence and Military applications, a special version was created for the Royal Observer Corps, the PDRM82(F) which had an external Coax cable allowing connection to an above ground ionisation detector which ran up the FSM Tube to a polycarbonate dome.
Surprisingly these are allegedly still standard Military Issue today, despite significant advances in technology!!
We recently bought a couple on eBay for exploring a site that in the past was known for having ‘radioactive content’ but despite coming across very real evidence of radioactive items, including Cobalt-60 storage, we could not get even the faintest reading anywhere at the site….kind of good really as had the PDRM82 ‘lit up’ we would have been a bit freaked out….