The former Middlesex County Control Centre is located just inside the grounds of the Roger Bannister Sports Centre in Uxbridge Road, Hatch End, 20 yards east of its junction with Oxhey Lane. It is a single storey ‘L’ shaped building of brick construction. It was built in 1942 and acted as the Middlesex Civil Defence Control Centre throughout the war. The county also had a ‘shadow’ semi-sunken CD control centre of similar size at 65 Forty Avenue, Wembley.
The Control at Hatch End was reactivated initially on a temporary basis in 1952. The original plan was to use the semi-sunken ‘shadow’ CD centre at Wembley but this was found to be flooded and unusable and has now been demolished. In 1954 there was a proposal to build a replacement semi-sunken control centre alongside in the car park but this plan was scuppered following the 1955 review of controls.
In 1958 it became the Middlesex County Group Control remaining in use until 1965 when Middlesex as a county was abolished and the centre came under the jurisdiction of the London Borough of Harrow. From 1965 to 1968 it was used as the London Borough of Harrow Control Centre, finally closing when the Civil Defence Corps was demolished. It was then handed over to the parks department and has been used as a store by the Roger Bannister Sports Centre. When the London Borough Controls were reactivated in the 1980’s Harrow was relocated to the Civic Centre where it was designated 51E1.
The former control centre still stands and on initial inspection appears to be in good external condition. Internally however there is obvious structural damage with wide cracks in one wall and across the ceiling having been repaired. There are no windows but there are wooden louvres in two walls and intake and exhaust ventilation pipes on the roof. There is a low extension on the two short ends walls which were the two emergency exists but these have now been bricked up. The only entrance is at the junction of the two arms of the ‘L’ facing away from Uxbridge Road. There is a short section of blast wall to access the entrance airlock which consisted of two gas tight wooden doors separated by a short section of corridor. The inner air lock door has been detached and is leaning against the wall.
Inside the airlock there is a short length of corridor with a room on the right that is currently still used for storage by the Sports Centre. The room on the left is the plant room. All the ventilation plant is still in place as is the mains input feed with a number of electrical control boxes and switch gear covering one wall. The standby generator has been removed although its concrete plinth is still there. At the end of the short corridor is the main ‘L’ shaped spine corridor running the length of the building. To the left at the end of the corridor the kitchen is on the left. All that remains are two floor standing kitchen units along two walls, a draining board and a water tank. The sink has been removed although three taps still protrude from the wall. One of the wooden louvres is in the kitchen wall. There are 14 1960’s typewriters on the units and in a pile on the floor (both electric and manual), it’s unclear if these came from the control centre.
On the right hand side at the end of the corridor is a room of unknown use, it is now used to store redundant furniture including a number of beds and a wooden filing cabinet that may well be original. There is a low wooden door in the far wall, this is one of the emergency exists consisting of a short length of low passage bricked up at the end. On the south side of the spine corridor are the male and female toilets. The female toilet consists of three cubicles, two wash basins, a mirror, a water tank, a waste bin and a sanitary towel bin, the male toilet also has two urinals (and no ST bin). Both rooms have a wooden louvered window. Next to the toilet is another room of unknown use and at the end of that arm of the spine corridor a long room with two cubicles at one end.
At this point the spine corridor turns through 90 degrees and has a number of original wooden cupboards high on one wall. There are two empty rooms on the left with interconnecting doors and three small rooms on the right. At the end of the corridor is the largest room in the building. This was probably the control room although there is no evidence to confirm this. It is full of redundant furniture and has a second low emergency exit in one wall; this has been boarded across.
Three rooms and the corridor are lit but this is modern lighting, none of the original light fittings work; the rest of the building is in darkness. There is ventilation trunking on the ceiling running throughout the corridors and into each of the rooms. Most of the rooms have lino tiles on the floor which is lifting in places although the building appears to be dry. Most of the rooms have been used for storage of redundant furniture but judging by the cobwebs and the clutter in the corridors they have not been entered for many years and only the first room on the right is currently in use. Those present on 10th December were Nick Catford, Keith Ward and Bob Jenner. Thanks to Keith for arranging this one, Keith was also responsible for the historical research.
Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford, Keith Ward, and Bob Jenner.