Site Name: Swynnerton SRHQ91/RGHQ 9.1
Sub Brit site visit 27.11.2003
[Source: Nick Catford]
Swynnerton RGHQ (9.1) stands on the site of a WW2 Royal Ordnance Filling Factory built in 1941. The site was closed in 1957 but reactivated in 1962 with a plan to use two of the semi-sunken explosives magazines as the civil defence Group Control for North Staffordshire and Stoke County Borough Control.
In 1964 Group Controls were abolished and the bunker became the Staffordshire County Control and County Training Centre. In 1967 the County Control was relocated to the basement of the county buildings in Stafford (completed 1969) and after 1968 the bunker was put on care and maintenance although the whole factory site was still owned by the MOD and used as an army training area.
In the early 1980's the bunker was reactivated as SRHQ 9.1 and in 1988
was refitted as RGHQ 9.1 serving the eastern part of the West Midlands,
finally closing in 1992. It was sold back to the army who have been
unable to use it on health and safety grounds as it had remained empty
and was believed to have toxic gasses including methane. Although there
have been a number of open days at the training area the bunker has
always remained strictly out of bounds.
The bunker is located on the north side of Valley Road, an internal training area road, at the southwest end of what were the Group 9 explosives storage magazines. Magazines 3 & 5 were utilized with a new covered way constructed to link the two together.
Within the bunker there was accommodation for the regional commissioner and his immediate support staff, representatives from government departments and military liaison officers. The bunker was designed to be self-sufficient, and contained facilities to carry out its functions for a number of months. Ancillary services required to keep the bunker functioning included; fuel and food stocks, a diesel generator, air filtration plant, radio communications, dormitories, lavatories, a kitchen and restaurant.
The main entrance to the complex is located on the southeast corner
of the southern bunker (No 3) and incorporates the former rail entrance
to the magazine. All exposed concrete surfaces are painted emerald green.
Photo:The southern bunker. The main entrance is partially hidden by a bush. The projecting structure with the two cowls is the standby set house with the radio mast to the far left. The purpose and date of construction of the brick building is unknown.
Photo by Nick Catford
The front of the bunker was completely rebuilt in 1988 with a double storey entrance block incorporating a new extension at right angles to the main entrance that houses the standby generators. This is a two level structure accessed through its own steel blast door on the southern face; above the entrance there are two downward facing cowls which are probably the exhaust vents. There is no internal connection between the standby set house and the rest of the bunker. It was not possible to see the generators as the door lock was seized and could not be opened. A small brick building on the south side of the standby set house is of unknown date and use and may have no connection with the RGHQ.
The main entrance into the 'operations' bunker is through a ground
level steel blast door. Once inside a door on the right leads into a
small switchgear room for the ventilation plant. There are two wall
mounted cabinets; the larger is the control unit for the ventilation
plant and the smaller is a large switch box with a padlock on it. Between
the two boxes there is a ladder to the upper level ventilation plant
consisting of filters and a fan which controls the air circulation by
feeding filtered air through metal trunking running through the bunker.
This plant only services the southern bunker. There is an external entrance
to this upper level by means of a steel staircase on the eastern face
which gives access to a small concrete balcony and steel blast door.
The air intake for the ventilation plant is on the southern elevation
where there is a steel blast plate. Exhaust was extracted through a
single downward facing cowl positioned to the north of the upper door.
Plan of southern bunker
Redrawn by Nick Catford from a fire exit plan found in the bunker
Back in the entrance lobby there is a second door with a glass viewing
window alongside. Passing through there are two routes into the bunker,
straight ahead along a short corridor or to the right through two decontamination
rooms. The first room contains a small shower, sink and a disposal bin
for contaminated clothes; the second room was for dressing with a second
door back into the entrance corridor. To the left is the main switchgear
room for controlling the electrical circuits throughout both bunkers
including all the controls for the standby generator. There are four
floor standing electrical cabinets and two smaller wall mounted cabinets.
Photo:Main switchgear room
Photo by Nick Catford
Beyond the switchgear room there are four steps up to the left. The entrance corridor is on the line of the standard gauge railway loading bay for the magazine with the steps up to the level of the railway platform. The loading bay itself has now been partitioned into a number of rooms, each with steps down to the original rail level. A wide corridor runs along the platform with a large water tank on the right, beyond that there are steps down to three rooms. The largest room is the PSA workshop with a large work bench along one wall which is, in fact, the edge of the railway platform. Passing through the smaller PSA room the water pumps are located in the third room. Back in the main corridor, there are three further rooms with steps down to railway level; one of these was the strong room which still retains a large safe
For further information and pictures of Swynnerton RGHQ click here
[Source: Nick Catford]
Last updated 1st January 2004
© 2004 Subterranea Britannica