Watford ROC Group HQ No.5

Finally and as promised some Cold War content for you…Watford ROC Group HQ opened on 18th November 1961, finished operationally in 1968 and closed in 1973 before being sold in 1974. These days the site is owned by the Park Veterinary Centrewho’s surgery and offices are sited in theWW2 ROC buildings on the main road and use the bunker at the rear of the site for storage.Many original items have been stripped over the years but a vast amount of original features are still intact so it was well worth a visit.

Ravensden ROC Post – Bedfordshire Group

Opened – Unknown
Closed – October 1968

There isn’t too much that can be said about this post as you can see from the pictures. I’m not entirely sure when it was capped with concrete and steel bar but its at least 15 years ago, also I’m not sure if it is just a cap or in fact they poured rubble down the shaft and topped it with concrete. If I run out of things to do before I die I might go back with a large can of PlusGas and ‘FSM Cam’ it just out of idle curiosity.

Great location geographically with great vision all round, or certainly would have been before the odd building and trees that have sprang up since the 1950’s. Bedford is one of those unusual counties with very few ROC Posts, despite the fact that Bedford ROC Group HQ No 7 was the HQ for the UKWMO Midlands Sector, covering many more counties at the time.

Nature has certainly claimed back this post…

ROC ‘Memorabilia’

I’m not into Militaria….at all, but I couldn’t resist these couple of items, found on eBay whilst looking for other stuff that I actually needed.

Original overalls/coveralls patch worn by Royal Observer Corps Observers and a Royal Observer Corps Kings Crown cap badge that would have been worn on a beret originally.

Upwell ROC Post – Norfolk Group

Opened – October 1959
Closed – September 1991
More from the ‘8 ROC Posts in one day’ tour. Once we caught sight of the telegraph poles disappearing into a field we were well happy as this was a Master Post but sadly on reaching the compound it was a major disappointment as it was seriously locked down (pictures elsewhere show this to be very tidy inside). The exterior was a lovely shade of green though with no obvious damage to anything. Not sure if they built this too low by mistake but the FSM tube has an extension and the hatch is well low in the ground!!

Supposedly this has been bought by someone but I don’t know for sure. Whoever is taking care of it has secured it very well and as we were tight on time we couldn’t really spend time finding out.

A Tube Cam was also out of the question unless we had a monster can of EAC Plus Gas and a spare day…..we had neither 🙁

Parson Drove ROC Post – Cambridgeshire Group (FSM Tube Cam)

Opened – March 1960
Closed – September 1991
Another post visited as part of an ‘8 ROC Posts in one day’ tour, Parson Drove had been ingeniously locked with a cleverly fitted mortice lock so became our first ‘fail’ of the day in respect of underground shots. The post was recently sold on eBay to someone in Oakham, Rutland but it looks like nothing has been done to it apart from the fancy lock.

Never one to be outwitted I broke out the Tube Cam Kit and did some ‘remote photography’. The interior looks to be the same as its always been with the red spray paint noted by Sub Brit back in 1999. My Tube Cam Kit is due to be modified in the future to provide precise shots, these ones are a bit poor but its better than nothing.

The famous Shetland pony is still there, it crept up on us and was attempting to eat Winch It In’s Canon kit while we had our backs turned doing the Tube Cam !!

March ROC Post – Cambridgeshire Group

Opened – July 1961
Closed – September 1991
Explored as part of an 8 ROC Posts in one day tour we were surprised to find this site totally overgrown as supposedly someone had bought this post and was going to restore it, obviously something has gone wrong with this plan!.

The long paving slab path that runs from the compound to steps up to the main road was covered in a thick hedge and the compound itself is several feet high in brambles and nettles. As stated on Sub Brit this post was totally dug up and rebuilt during the 1980’s and it shows, the walls and interior are in superb condition and a damp-proof membrane is evident at the base of the hatch. Internally the air vents are of a different design, we couldn’t even see the rear, above ground vent due to undergrowth but pictures on Sub Brit show this to be of a different design too. Toilet area was fitted with slatted shelves and the ‘desk’ seemed different to many other ROC Posts.

I was experimenting with camera settings (epic fail on most which got deleted!) so apologies for the quality on some shots.

Market Deeping Starfish Decoy Control Bunker

This was a bonus find while we were out on a ROC Fest day last week (8 ROC Posts in one day!!), I’ve not seen anything like this before but its believed to be a Starfish Bombing Decoy Control Bunker related to the (relatively) nearby RAF Wittering

If you know different the please post a comment and let me know.

The building has three rooms, one small room at the front, which is now buried and was possibly either a generator room or more likely a toilet, a 12ft x 10ft room to one side of the entrance corridor and a large 30ft x 12ft room. The large room has a ladder on the end wall going up to a hatch in the concrete roof which looked like at one time it had a brick surround. At various points in the roof were large circular holes and on the large flat concrete roof was evidence of mounting points, possibly for a ‘Micklethwaite’ type device or maybe another small platform/canopy. Surrounding this site are piles of broken brickwork and at least one Blast Wall which may well have covered the main entrance originally.

All in all an interesting find and despite the graffiti the place had a nice feel to it.

Kettering ROC Post 21 (Bedford 20 Cluster)

Opened – Unknown
Closed – September 1991

Visited this some time ago and kept a lid on it out of respect. It seems its now been outed elsewhere online so there’s no harm in posting these pix up now. This ROC Post had been deteriorating gradually over recent years and a couple of Cold War enthusiasts have fully restored the post to its former glory. If you are curious about the ‘stairs’ I have it on good authority that the original Chief Observer suffered from Polio so had these fitted decades ago to help getting in and out of the post. Getting all the items together has taken these guys ages and respect is due for the time, effort and cost required to do this restore.

I would like to add (and I know this to be true as I know the guys who restored this post) that NOTHING is left in this post in between ‘open days’ and the post is locked and alarmed.

Brixworth ROC Post – Northamptonshire Group

Opened – February 1962
Closed – September 1991

Brixworth forms part of the Bedford 30 Cluster and is the Master Post, with Crick 31 and Duston 32 and came under ROC Group HQ No 7 Bedford

This was only a quick visit so no underground shots on this occasion (we will be back for these another day). In the compound are what looks like the concrete steps for a Visual Reporting Post (Aircraft Observation), there are also some of the poles from this laying on the ground.

Duston ROC Post – Northamptonshire Group

Opened – February 1962
Closed – September 1991

Duston forms part of the Bedford 30 Cluster – Brixworth 30 (Master Post), Crick 31 and Duston 32 and came under ROC Group HQ No 7 Bedford

With the fast rate things were being removed from here and more importantly the imminent demolition of this entire site to make way for a major urban development plan (the ROC Post is the little grey square in sector O) we decided now was the time to visit before the post is gone forever.

Expecting a stripped post we were pleasantly surprised by what we found. If anyone is interested there is also the lower half an Orlit Post in the same compound.