Three years ago I said I would post up some more pix of this place so here’s Part 1 of maybe a 3 part set of shots (depends how many I decide to use).
Apart from some damp coming in here and there this place is more or less good to go, although you wouldn’t want to pay the generator bill. As previously mentioned it cost $39 million to build and was only in use for a matter of months, ever since then nobody has figured out what to do with it.
When you look at the amount of work that went into it it’s incredible. Take the roof slab for example, there’s 1500mm of reinforced concrete covered with 2000mm of earth, on top of this is a 1050mm Burster Slab followed by another 750mm of earth. On with the pix…
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.
Carrying on with the Mil Derp Cold War vibe from earlier posts…..enjoy
Building 25 – Decontamination Area
More rush lightpainting (soz about passing headtorches…)
Better this time…(shot in total darkness)
Building 25 Hard Area
Parachute Store (Building 51)
Photographic Processing and Interpretation Facility (Building 69)
November 14, 2011 | Posted in 17th Reconnaissance Wing, Alconbury, Area 51, Avionics, Building 210, Bunker, Cold War, Lockheed, Magic Mountain, Nuclear, Skunkworks, Spy plane, USAAF Station 102 | By sYnc
Ok, long overdue, some full on Cold War action for you…
In the 1950’s Skunkworks (Lockheed Advanced Development Projects) created a single engined, very high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft to be used in the Cold War to help determine Soviet capabilities and intentions. Elements of previous Lockheed designs such as the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter were incorporated to build what became the Lockheed U-2 Spy Plane (and later the TR-1). The first live flight was in August 1955 at Area 51 in Nevada and soon a variety of intelligences packages were developed for use with the plane that could be switched around depending on the mission (Interchangeable nose sections were fitted with large format cameras, radar and other cutting edge surveillance equipment). They flew so high that the pilot had to wear a space suit and breath bottled oxygen.
When the USAAF 17th Reconnaissance Wing was activated the 95th Reconnaissance Squadron was formed at RAF Alconbury bringing with them a fleet of TR-1 Spy planes. Building 210 was the Avionics and Photography Interpretation Centre for the TR-1/U2 Spy plane taking two years to build at a cost of $39 million and was later given the nickname Magic Mountain. The building was linked to various other US bases and also to the Strategic Air Command in Omaha, Nebraska.
Inside the stainless steel lined entrance corridor are a series of large rooms with raised access flooring for computer cabling. Building 210 has its own power plant, closed air conditioning, decontamination chambers, water supply and sewage systems. A Positive Air Pressure system was used to prevent any fallout or poisonous gas getting inside the facility. The bunker is on two floors and built of steel and reinforced concrete, sitting on a bed of gravel and giant ‘spring coils’ allowing the structure to shift during an attack and absorbing the impact. Allegedly it could withstand a direct hit from a nuclear bomb.
The political situation changed in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall and within six months of opening Magic Mountain was obsolete. By July 1991 the USAAF 17th Reconnaissance Wing was deactivated and by 1993 the entire base was handed back to the MoD.
On this visit I could not gain access to the subterranean bunker itself so you will have to make do with the few photo’s I could get, I will however be going back so watch this space…
Here is the rest of the pictures from Maidstone – 1 Group ROC HQ, as mentioned in the previous blog post time was very very tight so the pictures were rushed, apologies for this.
These remaining shots are of the Plant Room, escape hatches and rooftop.
Maidstone – 1 Group ROC HQ was built in 1959 and opened on the 25th June 1960 on an existing site for 1 Group Royal Observer Corps that had been operational since 1939.
Maidstone was part of the Metropolitan Sector, along with Horsham, Oxford, Colchester and Winchester. Each Group HQ controlled between 20 and 30 ROC Posts and collated data from all of these sites at five minute intervals. The information was then logged and plotted at the HQ where they would produce fallout predictions based on current weather conditions, log the detonation type (burst height) and location/yield before disseminating this information out to other locations such as UKWMO HQ, Regional Government Headquarters and other military sites.
Since closure in 1992 1 Group ROC HQ has been owned by a local Solicitors who until recently used the structure for archive storage.
It is of the same design as all of the ROC Group HQ’s in that its construction is of a semi sunken type, containing a totally sealed environment for ROC staff to operate in during operations. This particular Group HQ is in very good condition with all of the plant, filtration and ventilation systems intact and most likely operational. Recently the HQ has had a new roof fitted in order to try and combat the obvious damp issues the structure has.
Time was extremely limited at this location so the photo’s were very rushed, apologies for any poor shots!! (I’ve already dumped 70+…)