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…
December 27, 2013 | Posted in ARE, Cordite, DERA, DRA, DSTL, ExploreMobile, Holton Heath, MoD, portland, Qinetiq, RAE, Red Bull, Reservoir, RNCF, Royal Navy, RSRE, Underground, water, WW1, WW2 | By sYnc
It was six in the evening and I was hanging, I’d been awake for 2 days and no amount of Red Bull or caffeine was going to improve the situation. My synapses were popping slowly and muffled, as if in the distance….in my brain everything was going 5 frames a second instead of 40 and I think I piloted the ExploreMobile the 30 miles to the final site using Jedi Power alone.
We parked up in a layby carpeted with broken glass waiting for Newage’s crew to arrive, eating anything and everything we had left to try and boost the energy reserves. I really really needed to go home and sleep but we were here and home was a solid 4-5 hour drive. ‘Here’ was RNCF Holton Heath with the sole purpose of exploring the 3.5 million gallon underground reservoir in the middle of this vast complex. The RNCF was setup during WW1 to manufacture cordite for the Royal Navy, it then closed briefly but was brought back into service during WW2 and then after the war the explosives manufacturing areas were shut down and the remainder of the site used by the Admiralty Research Establishment in the 1980’s. The Admiralty Research Establishment (ARE) then became the DRA (Defence Research Agency) and eventually in the late 1990’s the entire site closed down.
Unrelated for this site but of possible interest is that the DRA, which also contained the RAE, A&AEE, RARDE, RSRE became the Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) in 1995 (with other agencies) who in turn evolved into DSTL (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) and Qinetiq.
A massive amount of the RNCF site still survives with many interesting structures still standing but this visit was just a quickie, maybe one day we will return.
We fought our way through gorse and other thick undergrowth to spend and hour shooting the pair of resi’s, both curiously of slightly different design before staggering back to the ExploreMobile and pointing it north, finally getting home just before midnight.
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?
To be continued…
December 6, 2013 | Posted in 1892, Anti-Aircraft Battery, cctv, coastal defences, D-Day, east weare, forbidden city, harbour, nubiles, pissed, portland, Quarry, RML Guns, road trip, Royal Navy, sea defences, verne, victorian forts, vomit | By sYnc
During WW2 it was used as an Anti-Aircraft Battery and to store ammo in preparation for D-Day. It’s very tucked away and easily missed being down in the base of an old Portland Stone quarry and at stupid O’Clock in the morning was nice and chilled.
I’ll be brutally honest though and say it didn’t really do it for me, as historically significant as it is and it being the best preserved Battery of its type in the UK I just can’t get excited about this sort of stuff so feel free to call me a neophyte or even a heathen…
But I was there, had nothing else to do and a camera so please enjoy some pix. If you want to read about this place in more detail (and with far more enthusiasm than me) take a look at the excellent work by David Moore at Victorian Forts and in particular the following PDF: http://victorianforts.co.uk/pdf/datasheets/verneha.pdf
Later on we fought through thick undergrowth and comedy pallisade squeezes, past the many rumoured (non-existant) ‘CCTV cameras’ reported by some paranoid explorers we came across, to visit the curiously named Forbidden City AKA East Weare Battery.
It’s not Forbidden and its not a City, both of which set you up for a serious anticlimax.
East Weare Battery to use it’s correct name is another Coastal Battery built between 1862 and 1869 on the west of Portland Harbour. Unlike Verne High Angle Battery this one is virtually at sea level at the base of the Verne cliffs. It was designed with six batteries (A-F) mounting an intended total of 27 guns which were a mixture of 9 and 10 inch Breach Loaders. Amongst the battery’s are a mixture of other buildings – Detention Barracks, Gunners House, Artillery Stores, a redoubt, Battery Observation Post, Lamp Room etc. In 1915 the disused Battery D was handed over to the Navy for explosives storage in the magazine and much later during WW2 some of the gun pits were roofed over. In recent times both A and B Battery were used for Fire Training by the Navy and as a result are very damaged.
As previously stated, for more detailed info please checkout: http://www.victorianforts.co.uk/pdf/datasheets/eastweare.pdf
More from our Portland Road Trip coming soon…
Been trying to find the perfect lighting rig for the GoPro Hero2 for months and never found anything I was happy with so this was a visit to a short but sweet local culvert to try something else out…
4 x 64 LED lights on a handheld frame running at a supposed 5500K (doesn’t look like 5500K if you ask me) and the GoPro was mounted on the Chesty harness.
This is a lot of light in a small space but the Hero2 still struggles to keep up so its reached the end of the line, he’s going on FleaBay very soon and I’ll drop some shekels on a Hero3 Black Edition 🙂
There’s a handful of stills at the bottom shot on the Canon on the way back through, check the pesky flies that quite artistically fooked the long exposure shots up :-p
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….
RAF Kings Cliffe opened in 1943, was operational until 1959 and was assigned USAAF designation Station 367, it was home to the 20th Fighter Group of the USAAF 8th Airforce who flew P38 Lightnings and later P51 Mustangs on bomber escort duties & ; also the 56th Fighter Group of the USAAF 8th Airforce who flew P-47 Thunderbolts. When the war finished the airfield was used by the RAF for armament storage up until 1959 when it was sold and turned back to agricultural use which continues to this day.
Sadly all of the hangars and most of the Technical Site have been demolished and in recent months some Stanton Shelters have also been demolished to make way for some currently unknown construction. There are however many smaller buildings still intact such as M&E Plinths, Substations, Sleeping Quarters, Motor Transport Repair, PBX, several defended Fighter Pens with work area, Mushroom Pillboxes, a Battle Headquarters, miscellaneous buildings and of course the Control/Watch Tower.
This visit focused mainly on the perimeter track and outlying defences, a planned return visit in winter (with less undergrowth!!) will concentrate more on the Technical and Communal Sites.
For BHQ geeks you will notice that the Battle Headquarters here isn’t sunk fully into the ground like most are, at least I think that’s the case, I guess the ground could have been removed over the years?, but that doesn’t explain the fully sunken Cantilever/Mushroom Pillbox right next to it…..weird!! Sadly despite it being higher than many this one is flooded to a depth of approx 3ft and always seems to be. The Cupola is still accessible (and dry) via the Emergency Escape hatch though.
There’s lots of pix so I’m posting this across multiple days…..enjoy 🙂
Closed – October 1968Nearing the end of visiting every ROC Post in Northamptonshire I went to Crick, knowing it to be in a sorry state from earlier reports at least I wasn’t shocked when I got there. Internally and externally the post is heavily vandalised with some evidence of small fires being started in the Observation Room and all manner of junk thrown down the shaft, including the hatch, hatch mechanism, sump piping and Counter Balance.Only very few remains from the original post are present such as traces of telecoms cabling and possibly what were original chairs. What’s left of the toilet door is laying on a pile of house bricks and decorated with a variety of road cones…
Yet another trashed 68’er
Closed – September 1991The last post visited as part of an ‘8 ROC Posts in one day’ tour and probably the mintiest ROC Post i’ve visited to date. Actually I didn’t really want to post this one up as it just serves as temptation for some morons to come and trash it and steal its contents but then I thought if I don’t post it up then someone else will…..its fate is sealed either way I guess…..hopefully someone will put a massive lock on it to protect this for future generations of visitors, who knows.
Some pix suffer from me experimenting with camera settings which I promise not to do while out in the field again…
Closed – October 1968Explored as part of an 8 ROC Posts in one day tour we visited Castor ROC Post, location of a well publicised suicide by a local farmer some years ago who hanged himself in the access shaft. Perhaps this has put off the chavs as the post is in no worse condition that when Sub Brit visited back in 1997, apart from the fact that the compound is now totally overgrown and it took us several laps of the site to locate the hatch and crawl on our hands and knees through the undergrowth.
Good deed of the day was rescuing a sick looking toad that probably fell down the severed at ground level FSM tube and bringing it back to the surface.
Also present at this site is a great example of an Aicraft Observation Post, originally this would have had a canvas cover on top and some steps.
I was experimenting with camera settings so apologies for the quality on some shots.