Got stuff spread around a bit at the moment due to ‘storage issues’ so often forget I have squirreled things away on various portable hard drives…found these three from early 2013 on yet another visit to Drakelow RGHQ 9.2 We’d seen all there was to see so spent time pissing about with a Quark RGB and one of those shitty cheap Chinese Green Lasers, don’t think it looks that great but here it is anyway, along with an ok Roadway shot that made itself to a calendar page this year…
If you run a website or Blog you will know that all sorts of stats are logged…this just found in the December 2013 search keywords report…asshole!!
If this was you, get off your ass and look and if you still can’t find it look again…
Already cold and pissed off watching seagulls and early morning dog walkers I waited for Winch and the rest of the world to wake up before meeting upwithNewage, Fluffy and Godzilla for a look inanR1 ROTOR Bunker.Portland CEWR1 ROTOR wasbuilt in 1951 and operational by 1953 and was a single story operation block accessed by an unusual guardhouse. In later years the site was taken over by the USAF who added a microwave relay station (to form part ofTroposcotter relay). In 1969 the underground bunker was badly damaged by fire and in 2001 the MoD stripped out the lift and (for some unknown reason) all the wooden flooring prior to the site going to sale by auction.As a result of the MoD ‘work’ and the fire this ROTOR bunker is in a very trashed state and as a result not a particularly inspiring place to explore. These days its in poor state suffering from serious damp problems and the Kelvin Hughes Projector room is flooded virtually to the top.
I didn’t bother getting very many pictures as my enthusiasm was running low and the shots I got are quite lame if I’m honest:
After leaving the R1 we dragged our tired asses up to Ridgeway Hill 3 Group AAOR stopping to cram copious amounts of food, Red Bull and Coffee before entering.
The AAOR looks fantastic from the outside, a nice two story blockhouse, semi-sunken in places and in great condition. Inside too its in excellent condition with lots of original features from both its RAF and Royal Navy days BUT sadly 95% of it cannot be seen due to thousands of boxes of cheap chinese toys (modern day use is a ‘warehouse’).
I’ll be honest, I’m not good when I’ve been awake for 30 hours so lets just say I didn’t stay long and the camera didn’t even come out of my bag so I sat outside sucking on caffeine waiting for Winch.
The day then started to get more interesting with Newage trying to tempt me with another juicy underground site that had potential to be better than all the previous locations (all I really wanted though was more food and loads of sleep). Seeing as we were in the area, everyone else was ganging up on me and the ExploreMobile still had good fuel stocks what was the harm in visiting one more place?
I guess its as easy to lose 93 photo’s as it to lose one (and I’m still looking for my West Norwood Cemetery Catacombs shots from 3 years ago…one day they will show up on a backup drive I’d forgotten about…)
So, I stumbled across 93 pix I shot at Drakelow RGHQ 9.2 several years ago and thought I’d post up a very small selection here, mainly cos I thought I already had already blogged them.
They were all shot on the little Lumix T76 backup camera so are not that great but they still have an interest all the same.
Apologies for the hiatus, I have been very sick for a while, some kind of mystery illness that wiped me out for a few weeks, possibly caused by some unclassified primordial ooze bacteria that I disturbed a mile underground, or maybe just a virulent generic ‘bug’ that’s doing the rounds, either way it sucks being so ill….
Explored in glorious 29 degree heat, this place has seen it all, starting in 1916 with the Royal Flying Corps, 70 Wing RAF in 1939 then in 1950 the Strategic Air Command arrived and a long string of Bomber/Fighter/Tactical squadrons followed.
All sorts has flown out of here, some of the more notable being Convair B-36 Peacemakers, B-52 Stratofortress, Lockheed U-2 Spy Planes, F-101 Voodoo’s, Phantoms and General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark’s involved in numerous combat operations such as Libya and Operation Desert Storm.
Victor Alert QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) Hardened Shelters
This is for when the radio is broken and crackles like uranium orchids This is for when the föhn-wind rattles the telegraph wires like a handful of bones This is for when dream ambulances skitter through the streets at midnight This is for when you get caught in a sleep-riot and the sky is out of order This is for when your sex is full of voodoo This is for when your clothes are imaginary This is for when your flesh creeps and never comes back.
Things are quiet here, not trapped and dead under a roof collapse deep in a mine, just not much exploring going on. There has however been lots of research, chasing down leads and lifting lids so to speak so hopefully there’ll be something of interest for you soon…
In the meantime here’s some random stuff found laying round on one of the hard disks that I don’t think has seen the light of day.
P.S Hi to the readers in far flung places like Latvia, Russia, Iran, Australia, Canada and the USA….thanks for reading !!
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.
Firstly I’ll admit this place has been done to death and secondly, this year I’m concentrating my efforts on stuff that has never been done before….BUT it was on last years Explore List and as we were in the Watford area it was rude not to hit this site up, plus at the eleventh hour this took on a personal twist for me so that’s why I’m posting it up…
I mentioned my visit to my Mother the night before I went as she has a passing interest in what she calls my ‘Dugout fascination’ and suddenly she became all animated. Apparently her eldest sister’s first job out of school in 1942 was at The Grove as she lived just round the corner in Watford North. I asked her to call my aunt to see if she could remember The Grove (she is 85) and apparently she said “I can remember it like it was yesterday”.
She could not remember her hut number but recalled visiting the shelters many many times on both drills and real air raids and also that another family relative worked there but in huts ‘the other side of the field’. This was all news to me as I was unaware I had an underground WW2 family connection 🙂
The London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) had previously (and on the quiet) acquired The Grove for use as its headquarters in the event of war. Following Italy’s invasion of Albania and during the Easter weekend of 1939, LMS took over The Grove. This was made ready as offices, and a number of huts built in the surrounding park as well as several substantial underground air-raid shelters. On Friday September 1st it was decided to move in and the transfer was completed before war was declared on the Sunday at 11 a.m. In a few hours the original Euston site had temporarily ceased to be the headquarters of the company, and on the Monday, 3,000 of the staff were at work in their new establishment.
The shelters were built out of concrete section in cut ‘n’ cover fashion and this particular one is very large with multiple entrances. After a few minutes though the repetition kicks in and it starts to get boring, nevertheless we walked round the entire thing and ended up trying to find the biggest spider possible down near ‘Entrance M’
For the photo geeks reading, there were massive variances in shades of concrete in this shelter so despite using the same light source for virtually all the shots and also the same colour temperature in post they still look like some were shot on different glass 🙁
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…