Winchester: Royal Observer Corps' No.14 Group HQ, UKWMO Metropolitan Sector.
Photo by Rod Siebert
RSG Site Visit Report:
[Source: Nick Catford]
The surface two-storey blockhouse is of concrete construction with an outer cladding of brick. The blockhouse has two doors set into a small recessed entrance at 90 degrees to the main building. The door on the right led to the filter room and the door on the left to the spine corridor that runs the length of the building. The doors are securely locked. Once in the spine corridor the first room on the right is the plant room. The ventilation plant is all still in place and appears to be in good condition. A door in the rear of the room leads into a slightly smaller room containing the standby generator and its control cabinet. Again the generator appears to be in excellent condition. The fuel tank is full, the engine is full of oil so a new battery would probably start it with little difficulty.
Photo: Control Room.
Photo by Nick Catford
Next door on the right leads into the well of the control room with its balcony around three sides above. The room is completely empty and the large glass window looking through into the communications centre has been smashed by vandals. The communications centre, with its walls covered with white painted peg board has been stripped. From the back of the communications centre there is a short corridor into the BT Room, this area is damp with mould on the floor. Back in the spine corridor the next door on the left is a store, the back wall has been smashed and you can walk straight through into the BT Room. After a flight of stairs up to the balcony is the main entrance into the BT room. There are some racks still in place, a small filing cabinet and papers strewn all over the floor. Next door on the right leads into the canteen which is empty followed by the kitchen which still retains all of its equipment. There is a serving hatch into the canteen. The corridor then turns right through a two door airlock to the emergency exit. The second door has been nailed shut following a break in through the rear exit after intruders cut their way in.
Returning to the start of the spine corridor, the first room on the left is the decontamination room with its sink still in place and a connecting door through to the dressing room. Then comes the ladies and gents toilets which are intact but not functioning, the officers room, male dormitory and female dormitory all of which are empty. Up the stairs to the balcony the atmosphere becomes very humid. The standard ROC post instruments were mounted up here and their is still a BPI mount on the wall of a small open room at one end of the balcony that once housed a large floor standing light box. The radio room is also at this level at the top of the stairs and this still contains some equipment.
Externally there is a door in a small extension on the lower flat roof which housed the water tanks. The lower section of ladder up to the roof has now been removed. The pump up aerial mast is still in place beside the blockhouse.
Photo: WW2 Control room.
Photo by Nick Catford
The administration block is alongside utilising the former ROC Centre built in 1943. It consists of prefabricated offices around a square two storey brick built ops. room. The building is painted white and is still in reasonable condition externally although it has obviously been broken into on a number of occasions as many of the windows are broken and boarded up. Internally it is a mess with considerable damage and vandalism to most of the rooms. The hub of the complex is the two storey operations room consisting of a well with steps up to a balcony around three sides. This room is painted a very dark blue and was, immediately after closure, used to house the ROC Museum. Unfortunately the museum had to move out at very short notice leaving many of their exhibits behind which have now been wrecked by intruders. There are a number of smashed display cases, a floor standing GPO unit, a GPO teleprinter, a rack of electronic equipment and a box of old GPO headsets. The former air lock to one side of the control room has been turned into a mock underground post with a timer mounted just inside the doorway, a battery lead dangling from the wall and even a recess cut into the floor to simulate the sump. The kitchen still has most of its equipment and there is a damaged floor standing GPO switchboard standing in the men's lavatory. Behind the operations room and only accessible from the outside are the boiler house which is empty apart from the concrete mounting and the ventilation plant room which is still fully equipped.
After closure in 1992 it had been hoped that the centre would permanently house the ROC museum and the local council put in a bid for the site. Unfortunately due to a bureaucratic blunder the site was sold to a lower bidder who had planned to turn the 1943 building, which is Grade 2 listed, into a vets surgery. These plans fell through and the owners now want to develop the whole site for housing but are frustrated by the Grade 2 listing which they are hoping to reverse. They have no plans for the site until after 2002 when the claw back clause imposed on them at the time of the sale becomes void.
[Source: Nick Catford]
Last updated 11th May 2001
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