Communicating the Unthinkable

About

This is a blog where I share documents + artefacts from the Cold War. It focuses on British civil defence and 'domestic propaganda' from 1950-1990, with other bits thrown in from time to time.

It's written and edited by me, Taras Young. I collect this stuff. I try to post something new as often as I can, at least once a month.

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@coldwaruk

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1950s · 1960s · 1970s · 1980s · 1990s · Administration · Advertisement · Analysis · Booklet · Central Government · Central Office of Information · Civil Defence · Civil Defence Corps · Cultural responses · Document · Emergency planning · Exhibitions · Home Office · Infrastructure · International · Leaflet · Local Government · Media · Medical · Military · Ministry of Defence · Postcards · Protest · Public Information · Royal Observer Corps · Training and Tools

Recent posts

Building a nuclear bunker: Hogs Back ROC Post

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If you have even a passing interest in civil defence and preparations for nuclear attack on the UK, you’ll quickly come across ROC posts. These are small, three-person bunkers, built by the government and manned by members of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC).

Known as ‘observers’, the mission of these civilian volunteers was to go to their monitoring post when nuclear attack was imminent, and detect and report the direction and power of any bomb blasts. Readings from several posts could be taken together to triangulate the precise location where a nuclear weapon had hit.

At one time, these tiny bunkers were dotted in a grid pattern across the landscape of the UK: by 1968, more than 1,500 had been constructed. However, many have now been lost – ploughed back into the land by the farmers on whose land they were built. (Others, like those at Portadown and Skelmorlie, have been restored and you can visit them for yourself on open days.)

I was recently lucky enough to come across a series of photos taken of the construction of a long-lost ROC post, the one at Hogs Back, near Guildford in Surrey.

The post was part of the ROC’s No. 2 Group (Horsham). The post was opened in August 1957, on the site of an earlier post (presumably an Orlit post). The bunker was closed in October 1968, and was subsequently demolished.

Here are some of the photos showing how one of these tiny nuclear bunkers was built.

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A hole in the ground

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Ready for concrete casting

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Unfinished ventilation shaft in place

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Entrance shaft, Bomb Power Indicator and Fixed Survey Meter tubes

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Brick cladding being used to protect the waterproof bitumen coating.

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Delegation visiting the completed bunker

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Inside the post

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The surface-level features of the completed bunker, with a grand view across the landscape beyond. You can see why this site was chosen for an ROC monitoring post.

You can also view the entry for Hogs Back on the Subterranea Britannica website.

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Posted on July 18, 2019 by Taras Young