Since its inception in 1925 as an integral part of the UK air defence system, the primary role of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was the recognition and identification of hostile aircraft. With the start of the cold war and the increasing threat of nuclear attack in the 1950's, the ROC was given the added responsibility of reporting nuclear bursts and monitoring fall-out which necessitated the construction of 1563 underground monitoring posts throughout Great Britain & Northern Ireland..
The first prototype underground post was built at Farnham, Surrey in 1956 and consisted of a 15ft entrance shaft which gave access to two rooms, one containing a chemical toilet and the larger (15ft X 7ft 6ins) monitoring room which was furnished with canvas chairs, folding table, shelf, cupboard and a pair of metal-framed bunk beds. This became the standard furniture for all underground posts.
A ventilation shaft with two louvered vents was located alongside the entrance shaft with a second air shaft at the other end of the room. Lighting was provided by a 12 volt battery located behind the monitoring room door. With a few exceptions, where the post was constructed within existing buildings, this layout remained the same at all locations.
ROC Monitoring posts were built all over the UK, the chances are that the town or village where you live has one, it is most probably right under your nose and you have never realised it, after all that's the way they were meant to be.
Most are now filled in or removed altogether, but many still survive in various states of repair.
Look at the pictures below, and see if you now recognise what that weird vent in the nearby field really was.
The R.O.C. Website has listings of all monitoring posts.
Below are videos and photographs of existing underground monitoring stations showing where possible external and internal images.
Information and recruitment film for the ROC.
The ROC Monitoring posts were connected by landline telephone to a larger Emergency Control Centre, these were responsible for all the monitoring posts within their designated area and had communications to further up the chain of command. They were much bigger buildings and often'hidden away in plain site'. To see some of these check out the section titled Bexleyheath Bunker.
To find out the nearest underground monitoring posts and bunkers to where you live, follow the link below.