The Frodsham AAOR was in 4 Group, 79 Brigade serving the Mersey Gun Defended Area (GDA). It is of the standard design built in the early 1950’s with both floors above ground. The main entrance is into the lower floor while the second entrance is up an external flight of stairs at the rear of the building. The AAOR is located on ‘The Beacons’ (SJ520766) a natural high point that has been artificially heightened. The building is set into a bank of this dumped material which surrounds it on two sides giving added blast protection.
After the AAOR was abandoned in the late 1950’s it was acquired by the Cheshire County Council in 1961 becoming a Civil Defence Training Centre and Northwich Sub Control until the Civil Defence Corps was disbanded in 1968. It was refurbished in 1986⁄87 becoming the Cheshire County Standby Emergency Centre (County Main is an unprotected room at County Hall in Chester) and is now used mainly for training with two lecture rooms and 6 syndicate rooms. It also houses the Cheshire Fire Brigade County Standby Control Centre, the main control being at Winsford. There was no Cheshire County Control in the 1960’s. Conversion of the County Hall basement was started in 1966 but stopped in 1968 when the room was found to have blocked high level windows!
During the 1980’s refurbishment there were some alterations to the internal room layout on the upper level while the lower level has remained largely unaltered. Entering through the main entrance on the lower floor there is a reception area with the ring corridor running in both directions. The first room on the right is the ventilation plant room which still contains all the original plant in good working order. Next to it is the boiler room, the original boiler was replaced in November 2001.
Turning round two corners the entrance to the ‘operations room’ is straight ahead with a room on the left which now houses the Cheshire Fire Brigade standby control centre. The Cheshire standby is regularly used by the fire brigade for training, it is equipped with computers, telephones and a number of allocation boards. The operations room has been converted into a large two level lecture theatre with 2 AV systems, 3 projector screens and two lecterns.
The upper level balcony is still complete on three sides, one section of open balcony and two sides enclosed by curved Perspex windows. The fourth side (opposite the open balcony) has been removed along with the Perspex windows; the doorway into the upper level blocked up. The ring corridor makes another dog leg past what is now Syndicate Room 4 and then the radio room. This is used by Raynet with four booths along one wall, each containing a radio transceiver; there is also a 1:50,000 OS map of Cheshire on the wall. Opposite the radio room is the IT & AV Room. A window has been cut into the back wall of the former operation room and the room is now used for projection. It also houses the County SX2000 Emergency Communications Network (ECN) exchange, placed here for convenience as there is little room for it at County Main in Chester. The room also has a number of computer terminals.
Moving round the ring corridor there is a store room and Syndicate Rooms 3 & 1 then a dog leg round to the front of the building and main entrance. The final room alongside the entrance is the generator room. The original generator was removed during the 1980’s refurbishment and a new Perkins Generator and its associated control equipment installed. The room has also been subdivided with a fuel tank installed in the new rear room.
Turning right from the upper entrance a dog leg gave access to one of the two original toilet blocks, this was converted during the refurbishment into a spacious kitchen with a serving counter, two food preparation areas, sink, water heater, cooker, microwave, fridge, dish washer and wooden kitchen units. Beyond the kitchen the ring corridor has been opened out incorporating two rooms into the new large dining room with 8 tables and chairs. Within the dining room is a small room housing a new water tank.
From the dining room the corridor turns another corner and is again opened out (incorporating two former rooms) into the ‘Resources Room’ fitted with desks, chairs, filing cabinets, computers and a copying camera. In the far corner is a radio workshop used by Raynet. The third side of the ring corridor has also been opened out incorporating two former rooms into Lecture Room 2 with rows of chairs, audio visual equipment and a projector screen. Beyond this is Syndicate Room 2 and round the final corner to male and female toilets built into one of the two original toilet blocks. A final dog leg gives access to Syndicate Room 6 and the upper entrance.
All 5 original stairways are intact and usable and the building is now carpeted throughout. All the Syndicate rooms contain a table and chairs. Syndicate Room 5 has a 1:50,000 OS map of Cheshire and a computer terminal.
Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford, Keith Ward, Richard Lamont, Rod Siebert, John Fogg and Robin Ware.