ROC Group Headquarters and the United Kingdom Warning & Monitoring Organisation:

Individual ROC posts reported their instrument readings directly to their Group Headquarters by GPO/BT landline. If lines were not functioning but there was still communication between posts in a cluster, the master post in each cluster would communicate with Group HQ by VHF radio. If their own Group Headquarters was non operational for any reason they could then report to an adjacent Group Headquarters.


UKWMO Sector Controls
  • Metropolitan Sector: co-located with 2 Group Control Horsham
  • Midland Sector: co-located with 7 Group Control Bedford
  • Southern Sector: co-located with 12 Group Control Bristol
  • Eastern Eector: co-located with 15 Group Control Lincoln
  • Western Sector: co-located with 21 Group Control
  • Caledonioan (later Scottish) Sector:
    1953 - 1964 Barnton Quarry
    1964 - 1976 School Hill, Aberdeenshire
    1976 - 1991 co-located with 28 Group Control Dundee
A number of war pre-nuclear era ROC centres were retained as stand-by operational buildings and training centres.
    Dates: 1959 - 1968
    Location: Dura Den, Park Place, Beckenham, Kent.  
    Dates: 1953 - 1968
    Location: The Guildhall, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk 
    Dates: 1962 - 1968
    Location: Northgate Street, Caernarvon  
    Dates: 1953 - 1965
    Location: Meadowfields, Newmarket Road, Cambridge  
    Dates: 1953 - 1968
    Location: RAF Caerau, Ely, Cardiff,  
    Dates: 1961 - 1974
    Location: RAF Waddington
    Dates: 1953 - 1968
    Location: RAF Petraevie Castle  
    Dates: 1953 - 1976
    Location: Northgate Mansions, Gloucester.  
    Dates: 1961 - 1967
    Location: Willow Lane, Lancaster  
    Dates: 1961 - 1970
    Location: ‘Danebury’, Slade Lane, Levenshulme, Manchester.  
  • OBAN
    Dates: 1968 - 1973 (used as a communications centre until 1992)
    Location: North Connel, Argyll    
    Dates: 1968 - 1973
    Location: Cassiobury Drive, Watford.

The hub of each Group HQ or Group Control was the operations room where the triangulation team would analyse the information received from individual posts. This three-man team consisted of a tote-operator, a triangulator and an assessor. The burst times, pressure readings, elevations and bearings from each post were shown on a blackboard. Bearings from the post were plotted on a table map, which gave a triangulated fix on ground zero. With the aid of a calculator, the pressure readings and distances enabled the scientists to calculate the power of the bomb or bombs. This and other information was then passed to the Sector Operations Centres of the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation (UKWMO) where more scientists were able to predict where and when the fall-out was heading. There were 5 Sector Operations Centres, four in England and one in Scotland located within Group Headquarters.
The five main functions of the UKWMO, which came under the direct control of the Home Office, were:

Warning of an air attack - conventional and nuclear
Confirming any nuclear strike
Warning of the approach of radioactive fallout
Supplying government headquarters and home defence forces in the UK and neighboring countries with details of nuclear bursts and with a scientific assessment of the path and intensity of fallout.
Providing a post-attack metrological service.

Group HQ operated with a staff of approximately 50 working under the group controller. There were roughly 40 Observers, a warning team of 10 (the scientists who made the calculations) and 5 full time paid staff. When fully operational Sector Control would need a staff of about 80 including sector scientific advisor who’s job would be to advise on any unexpected developments.
There were two types of purpose built protected centre, a semi-sunken two level bunker or a two level surface blockhouse. Each had an operations room with an upper gallery around three sides (in a bunker you went down to the lower floor while in a blockhouse you go up to the gallery), stand-by generator plant, sleeping accommodation, kitchen and dining room, air conditioning, air filters, communications, water and food storage etc.  When sealed the centre had to be self sufficient for a week under fall-out conditions.
A few centres were located in adapted buildings, Bristol and Belfast were in post war anti-aircraft operations rooms while Inverness and Preston occupied a former WW2 RAF Sector Operations Centre.
The administration block was usually located in a less substantial building, sometimes an old house, alongside. Following the restructuring programme in 1968 some Group Controls closed in the general re-clustering with posts being transferred to adjacent Groups.

Note: These floor plans apply to both surface and underground sites.

[Source: Nick Catford]

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Last updated 11/7/04