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
Midland Sector: co-located with 7 Group Control
Southern Sector: co-located with 12 Group
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
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.
BURY ST. EDMUNDS
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.
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:
of an air attack - conventional and nuclear
any nuclear strike
of the approach of radioactive fallout
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.
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
whos 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
Note: These floor plans apply to both surface and underground
© Subterranea Britannica 1998 - 2004
Last updated 11/7/04