Site Records

Site Name: Shipton ('KFY') R4 ROTOR Sector Operations Centre & SRHQ 21/RGHQ 2.1

North Yorkshire

RSG site visit December 1996

[Source: Nick Catford]

The 3 level bunker at Shipton was originally built in 1953 as one of 6 Sector Operations Centres for the ROTOR Radar Project. 4 were purpose built; Shipton, Bawburgh, Kelvedon Hatch and Barnton Quarry while the other two at Box and Goosnargh (see Langley Lane) utilised former WW2 sites.

Photo: The guardhouse in 1996
Photo: The guardhouse in 1996
Photo by Nick Catford

The ROTOR SOC's were designed to exercise the intermediate control and reporting functions under Fighter Command HQ, Bentley Priory. The UK was divided into 6 sectors, each with an SOC (As in Para. 1). Fighter Command HQ and the SOC's received raw data (via an extensive system of land lines for which the GPO was responsible) from radar stations and ROC Group HQ's, other data sources such as the 'Y' organisation were also available.

After filtering to remove anomalies, this data was retold to the SOC's who were responsible for the actual fighter control and interception (via GCI stations). Army AAOR's also received the same information to integrate their defences. When it became apparent that time delays were severely hampering the system, limited UHF fighter communication was provided at the SOC.

Given the delay in data transfer to and from the SOC's and the introduction of advanced Type 80 radars (ca 1953) it became apparent that control and reporting functions could be more easily provided at GCI installations, this realisation led to the rapid evolution of the ROTOR system and to the development of specific GCI stations as 'Master Radar Stations'.

With the advent of the H bomb in 1955 and fast 'modern' bombers etc., the ROTOR system as it stood, was quickly superseded by improving technology, it was soon obvious that the ROTOR SOC's and Army's AAOR's were rapidly becoming functionally redundant.

Shipton was vacated by the RAF in about 1960 and in 1962 it was refitted as a Sub Regional Headquarters (SRHQ 21) for the North East Region covering Leeds to Teeside, the ROTOR SOC 'tote well' was floored over in 1968. It was again refitted and rebuilt between 1976 and 1981 when a forth floor was added above the top floor mainly to provide extra dormitory space.

To construct this new upper level it was necessary to cut through the 10 foot thick re-enforced concrete roof of the original bunker. The new upper level was covered by a substantial earth mound.

The original entrance guardhouse/bungalow was retained (by now heavily reinforced) as the access to the site. Shipton was later redesigned as RGHQ 2.1 one of two RGHQ's in Region 2 (The other was at Hexham).

Following the scrapping of the RGHQ network in 1993 the bunker was stripped of everything apart from plant, electrical switch gear and the kitchen which was removed by English Heritage. When visited in 1996 it was found to be in good general condition with all the plant and electrical equipment in working order, however some areas were wet, the bunker had suffered from a serious ingress of water following the addition of the fourth floor.

Since 1996 the site has been well cared for and maintained. The site is secure and site visits are not welcome.

[Source: Nick Catford]

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