Off Schedule
Mr Cowper and Mr Newton

Underground in the Cold War

ROC post Bucks entrance shaftThe entrance shaft. The top of the shaft is about three feet above ground level, so the post is about 17 feet below the ground (I estimate)

In the mid 1950s, the threat of atomic attack by the Soviet Union was taken very seriously by the British government. The Royal Observers Corps were given the job, if an attack took place, of reporting nuclear bomb explosions and of monitoring radioactive fallout. Three men at a time crewed the post.

1,563 underground posts were built all over the UK for the ROC, and many still exist. This one is somewhere between Winslow and Aylesbury. I’ll not be more precise, as these posts tend to get vandalised or the contents are stolen. This post closed in 1991.

There are a few restored posts. Here is one, with a cutaway diagram of the post.

The posts were built to a standard design, although the hatch at the top of the shaft isn't always hinged on the same side, and some were built 'handed'. That is, to a mirror image plan. I have no idea why; can anybody enlighten me?

If you want to know more, there are at least two books on the subject. They are Cold War Secret Nuclear Bunkers by Nick McCamley, and Cold War - Building for Nuclear Confrontation 1946-1989 by Wayne D. Cocroft and Roger J. C. Thomas.

Anyway, here’s some photos I took last year.

ROC post Bucks bottom of shaftThe bottom of the access shaft. The device on the right is a hand pump for emptying the sump, where any water that got in would collect.

ROC post Bucks main roomThis is the main and only room. The entrance shaft is at the far left, and off the  shaft but not visible in this photo, was the chemical toilet.

ROC post BucksThe view from the door.

ROC post Bucks deskThe desk and cupboard seem to be pretty well standard for an ROC post.

ROC post Bucks formsROC forms from 1991, and behind them is a small packet of Skittles. According to somebody who visited the post in 2007, these Skittles date from 1991. The packet is unopened.

ROC post Bucks bomb power indicator dialThis dial is from the Bomb Power Indicator. It measures peak over pressure from a nuclear explosion.

ROC post Bucks (8)Another view of the desk and cupboard.

ROC post Bucks air ventTwo bunk beds would have been at this end. There's a ventilation duct high in the wall.

ROC post Bucks charging controlBattery set switch. In the event of a nuclear strike, it is very likely that mains electricity would be lost. The battery (kept charged up by the mains until needed) would allow the crew to see what they were doing.

ROC post Bucks weatherSimilar posters can be found in other ROC posts.

ROC post Bucks timerTimer switch, probably to ensure that the lights do not run the batteries down too far.

ROC post Bucks doorStickers from when the post was last operational.

ROC post Bucks sump drainSump and ladder. Metal parts of the post are bonded by copper straps, possibly against EMPs. (Electromagnetic pulses, which are generated by nuclear explosions)

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