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ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS VISUAL OBSERVATION AND NUCLEAR MONITORING POST

Loctaed on the edge of Buckden it is now a listed building for its historical importance.

Throughout the Second World War, the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) identified, tracked and plotted all aircraft flights giving timely warnings of raids to the RAF.  Little wonder the ROC was known as the 'Eyes and Ears of the RAF'! By the end of 1954 an ROC post (officially known as an Orlit Type B visual observation post) was positioned on the edge of Buckden in a location with a good unrestricted view.  This was to provide warnings of low flying enemy aircraft who would be able to fly under the RAF’s radar coverage at the time.

ROC Observation Post: About

As the threat of nuclear war increased the ROC was given a new and specific role - to provide primary data on the position and magnitude of atomic weapons detonated during a nuclear attack and plot radioactive fallout. Preparations for the defence of the UK from atomic weapons started to be put in place. In 1956 a programme of building 1,563 underground Posts (bunkers) and 31 large underground Group Control Centres was started. As part of this programme, in August 1968, a bunker was built next to and replacing the existing Orlit Type B Post at Buckden.  

For each bunker volunteers were trained as Observers with 3 on permanent duty. They monitored instruments to measure the blast and radio-active fallout, in the event of an attack, would shut themselves inside with supplies for at least 3 weeks. Warnings would be given and Information passed to the crews and scientific officers at the ROC Bedford Group Control where it was collated and sent on to the civil and military authorities as well as all other ROC Group and Sector Controls.

However, in ways that only the Government can work, a decision was made in October 1968 to reduce defence spending and 686 bunkers were closed, including the Buckden bunker.  The remaining 870 bunkers in the UK continued in service until 1991.

In 2015 John Shere from the ROC Association Heritage Team tried to get the Post and bunker officially ‘Listed’ via Heritage England. His first attempt failed but his second submission had valuable formal support from both Buckden and Brampton Parish Councils. On 13 January 2021 both Cold War structures were granted Grade 2 listed status.

In their reasons for designation, Historic England noted the architectural and historic interest of the post and bunker:

Architectural Interest:

Although of a standard, functional design, their aesthetics and methods of construction illustrate Britain's rapidly evolving defence policy in response to changing threats to national security during the mid-C20.

As rare and unusual Cold War military buildings that survive in a particularly good state of preservation.

Historic Interest:

The 'Orlit Type B' visual observation Post symbolises the final days of the passive defence of the United Kingdom prior to the development of the hydrogen bomb, while the underground monitoring post demonstrates how technological advances in 'scientific' warfare influenced government defence policy over a relatively short period of time.

Their co-location reflects the continuing change in the role of the ROC and the changes in the types, and levels, of potential threat on a national and international scale during the mid-C20.

As military buildings that stand testament to the work of the Royal Observer Corps, a volunteer force who were prepared to respond if the unthinkable happened and the United Kingdom was attacked from the air.

With many thanks to John Shere from the ROC Association Heritage Team.

More information can be found about the ROC at www.roc-heritage.co.uk.

For Historic England's full report please see

 https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1470473?section=official-list-entry

The ROC Orlit Type B visual observation Post can be seen on the edge of Lodge Farm, Buckden, on the approach from Brampton just before the junction with the A1 (please note that the ROC Post’s are on private land).

ROC Observation Post: Text
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