Royal Observer Corps (ROC) Monitoring Posts


Royal Observer Corps Monitoring posts are dotted all over the country. The UK government built 1,563 of these concrete structures 6 feet underground between 1956 and 1965. They were located 15 miles apart, with 31 larger control centres and headquarters also scattered across the length and breadth of the country. The posts were built to a standard design with a 14 foot access ladder, a small toilet and store and a monitoring room, with an air vent on the far side. The monitoring room was equipped with chairs, a folding table, shelves, cupboards and metal bunk beds. The Royal Observer Corps was stood down in 1991 as a result of the fall of the Soviet Union, so all ROC Posts were closed.

What were ROC Posts used for?

ROC Posts were built as tensions rose in global politics and the risk of a nuclear attack increased during the Cold War. The posts were part of the UK Warning & Monitoring Organisation, aiming to:

  1. Warn the public of air attack
  2. Provide confirmation of nuclear strike
  3. Warn the public of the approach of radioactive fallout
  4. Supply the authorities in the UK and neighbouring countries in NATO with details of nuclear bursts and fallout
  5. Provide a post-attack meteorological service.

ROC Posts each held 3 ROC Volunteers. In the event of a nuclear attack in the UK, these volunteers would use monitoring equipment to measure the impacts of nuclear attack. With the posts dotted evenly across the country and reporting back to local headquarters, these measurements could determine the power and ground zero of a nuclear blast. After a nuclear attack ROC Posts would also monitor nuclear fallout. After an attack, these bunkers would have to be occupied for at least 7 days- conditions would have been extremely cold and cramped

How to Find ROC Posts

Many of these structures are still accessible across the country. Posts in rural areas are generally more likely to still be intact and not locked or blocked off. As they were so widespread there’s a good chance there’s one near to you and they make great little explores. They are in varied conditions, with many being fire damaged or used as hideouts for locals. Subterrania Britannica is a great resource for locating ROC Posts and further information about specific sites.

ROC Posts that we have visited and were accessible at the time of our visit are:

Northleach ROC Post

Poulton ROC Post

Marchwood ROC Post– Marchwood, Hampshire. This is in a field off an A-Road and was easily found and accessible.

Fordingbridge ROC Post

Medstead ROC Post

Last Updated on 16 November 2021 by Michael

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