Royal Observer Corps Nuclear Post

Below is a scale model ROC post which I made to match the design of the one that once stood on Canvey. Using photographs taken by those fortunate enough to visit it, I crafted this from scratch using wood and clay before painstakingly painting it. Note how the Canvey specimen featured a brick stand for the survey meter.


What are ROC Posts?

The Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was a defence warning organisation operating from 1925. It was created to provide a system for detecting, tracking and reporting enemy aircraft over Britain. They played a very important part during World War Two. The end of the Second World War brought with it the new and terrifying prospect of nuclear war. In Britain the public would have had a mere four minute warning of the approach of nuclear missiles and it was the job of the Royal Observer Corps to warn the public of the impending attack, report the explosions and plot the path of the deadly nuclear fallout. From 1955 the Corps operated from 1563 ROC underground monitoring ‘posts’ about 7-8 miles apart from each other throughout the UK. In 1968 the Corps was re-organised and about half of the posts were closed. In September 1991 the remaining 872 posts were stood down and were abandoned.

The image below shows the diagram of one. This site is very useful if you want to know more about ROC posts.

An example of the ground zero indicator – a pinhole camera ontop of the post that needed frequent replacing (suicidal), was found by us in the Imperial War Museum.
The Canvey ROC Post Whilst Extant
Nick Catford from the amazing site Subterranea Britannica visited the site in 1997, 1998, and 2000. He records:
When first inspected in 1997 the post was in reasonable external condition with all surface features intact but with some land erosion around the access shaft. The FSM pipe is mounted on a raised concrete plinth and the ventilation shaft is mounted on ten course of bricks. Internally the post is in good condition although completely stripped apart from the cupboard and some wiring. The white paintwork is still in good clean condition. When inspected in October 2000 the ventilation shaft was found to be badly damaged, as was the hatch, which is now detached from the access shaft. Recent development in the area has missed the post but its future remains uncertain.
Dave Bullock from visited the site in 2008 when the above ground features had been demolished. The inside had been victim of an arson attack. Shortly after the entrance shaft was capped (filled with concrete) which is when we visited.
Our Visit in 2012

BTP Liam and I went to the ROC Post that is situated north-east of McDonald’s. We had seen images of it on Flickr and we had be told some knowledge of it and it’s history from the Bay Museum. The Royal Observer Corps, would be used to monitor the effects of a nuclear explosion to record the wind direction, power of the weapon and if the ROC monitors survived the aftermath, to report the damage inflicted; although in truth the job was recognized as a suicide mission…..Find out more here!

When we arrived the had the difficultly of getting in as the area was quite over grown. We came across what appeared to be an old gate and fence, with a channelled concrete base, near to the ROC post, although, with thanks to Dave Bullock, we later found out this was part of the Occindental Oil Refinery. This was used to house cabling in the channels, and is located in the same land only a few yards south of the bunker.

As we always do, we set off with satellite images of the area so we kept referring to them to try and find out where the bunker was, but as it was overgrown, it wasn’t much use! We came across several area’s that we thought might be it, but with closer inspection, we realised that it didn’t have any wires near the surface, which the images on Flickr clearly showed. We finally came across a mound that would have matched with the satellite images, so BTP Liam and I started to explore when I found the entrance to it on the top.

Unfortunately it was filled in but we decided to burrow down a little into the mud. We found various shards of the wall, some bits even had the original paint on.

  1. These are fascinating places. I have been in two now and they are all identical in construction. In one, my local one, there was an original matters still in its bag and the pink acetate blast sheet to determine the size of the nuear blast. Anyone who was willing to spend their days in one of these concrete coffins has my admiration.

    • BTP Liam says:

      Indeed, but then again I think one of these might be a little better than a shelter made from matresses and suitcases for the average civillian. Still the fact an ROC member would have to open the hatch often to change the camera ontop would’ve rendered it pretty useless I’m sure!

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