Kent Defences => ROC Posts => Topic started by: merc on August 26, 2009, 17:31:49

Title: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: merc on August 26, 2009, 17:31:49
Friday,June 10,1960

- REPORTING NUCLEAR FALL-OUT -

General Sir Sidney Kirkman,Director-General of Civil Defence,will open the first of a number of specially constructed Group headquarters for the Royal Observer Corps at Maidstone on June 25th.
The R.O.C. for many years the "eyes" of R.A.F. Fighter Command in an aircraft spotting role,now has resposibility for reporting nuclear fall-out,  and the new buildings have been designed to allow members of the Corps to operate for long periods,completely self contained,in the event of a nuclear war.
Maidstone will be the headqarters of No. 1 Group R.O.C., a similar subterranean HQ will be opened for No. 17 Group at Wrexham,North Wales by Lord Brecon,Minister of State for Welsh Affairs,on July 9.

Over 700 out of a total of 1,500 heavily protected underground R.O.C. posts have also been built around Britain in the past three years in which volunteer observers linked to the Groups controlling them,would work during nuclear warfare,the air ministry announce today.

The new air conditioned headquarters at Maidstone consist of an Operations room,Officers Dormitories for men and women,Contamination-cleansing rooms, a Kitchen and Canteen,Training and Storage rooms.
The walls are furnished in a coating of anti-condensation material.
The functions of the nuclear-age headquarters would be to receive an coordinate information of fall-out from the Posts they control and from other Groups and pass it on to the Civil Defence authorities,the services and other interested organisations.
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: kyn on August 29, 2009, 18:39:30
Thanks to Merc for arranging this.  It was good to see you all today  :)  I think we were all surprised by the size of this bunker, it was alot bigger than i expected!
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: BenG on August 29, 2009, 20:37:07
Here is a few of my shots from todays trip.

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7377.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7379.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7380.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7392.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7398.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7399.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7406.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7409.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7418.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7435.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7446.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7449.JPG)

(http://www.kentexploration.co.uk/images/stories/roc/maidhq/DSCF7451.JPG)
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: kyn on August 29, 2009, 21:06:25
More

Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: karlostg on September 01, 2009, 09:00:13
some different angles and peeps
(http://i824.photobucket.com/albums/zz164/karlosthegiraffe/Admirals%20House/maidstone/maidstoneROC032.jpg)

(http://i824.photobucket.com/albums/zz164/karlosthegiraffe/Admirals%20House/maidstone/maidstoneROC044.jpg)

(http://i824.photobucket.com/albums/zz164/karlosthegiraffe/Admirals%20House/maidstone/maidstoneROC051.jpg)

(http://i824.photobucket.com/albums/zz164/karlosthegiraffe/Admirals%20House/maidstone/maidstoneROC056.jpg)
(the roof, errr what ladder?)

(http://i824.photobucket.com/albums/zz164/karlosthegiraffe/Admirals%20House/maidstone/maidstoneROC058.jpg)

(http://i824.photobucket.com/albums/zz164/karlosthegiraffe/Admirals%20House/maidstone/maidstoneROC065.jpg)

It was a brilliant trip, cheers for sorting it Merc
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: merc on September 04, 2009, 13:36:29
I've just recieved a copy of a letter sent from Brachers to the Heart of Kent Hospice,Preston Hall,Aylesford  :)


Dear Sirs

Re: Donation from Kent History Forum

Please find enclosed a cheque in the sum of 50 being donations from members of the Kent History Forum as a result of them being given a tour of the Cold War Bunker that we have on our premises.

Yours faithfully

Carol Vizzard

Office Manager
Brachers LLP

Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: kyn on September 09, 2009, 14:39:19
 :)
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: cliveh on January 22, 2010, 08:12:29
Double centre page spread in todays Kent Messenger about this ROC post. Looks like Maidstone Museum Foundation will be offering tours of the post, in the next few months, for a maximum of 20 people at a time. They give a phone number 01622 602838 for further info.
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: medwayboy on May 15, 2010, 15:43:32
Went on the tour this morning and had a brilliant time. Bigger than expected. Had a quick briefing about the R.O.C before venturing into the bunker. We were told they have one next week which is fully booked, 1 in June and 2 in July depending on demand.
looking at previous pictures nothing much has changed apart from the racking being cleared in the lower level. Put a couple up and linked all my pics for anyone who wishes to see them  :)
(http://i762.photobucket.com/albums/xx270/stroodboy/Maidstone%20nuclear%20bunker/DSC_0098.jpg)
(http://i762.photobucket.com/albums/xx270/stroodboy/Maidstone%20nuclear%20bunker/DSC_0086.jpg)
(http://i762.photobucket.com/albums/xx270/stroodboy/Maidstone%20nuclear%20bunker/DSC_0078.jpg)
(http://i762.photobucket.com/albums/xx270/stroodboy/Maidstone%20nuclear%20bunker/DSC_0071.jpg)
(http://i762.photobucket.com/albums/xx270/stroodboy/Maidstone%20nuclear%20bunker/DSC_0068.jpg)
(http://i762.photobucket.com/albums/xx270/stroodboy/Maidstone%20nuclear%20bunker/DSC_0065.jpg)

Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: medwayboy on May 15, 2010, 16:30:29
They did say a lot of the equipment went to Newhaven fort ( I'm sure that's what they said ) . They were hoping to get some of it back to make a better experience... Fingers crossed
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: cliveh on May 16, 2010, 17:55:16
It was a very worthwhile and intersting little tour. The guy that gave us the talk beforehand and showed us around was the last Commander of the Post. It was his first time back there since it stood down 19 years ago!

Took quite a few pics but would only be duplicating what's already been posted.

Was that you medway boy standing next to me on the balcony near the site of the Triangulation Table?
I was the short fat bald ugly bloke wearing the beige shooting waistcoat & yellow polo shirt! :)

cliveh
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: medwayboy on May 17, 2010, 00:49:48
Hello Cliveh ....  Indeed it was me...    Glad you enjoyed it as much as me.... Well worth the entrance fee  :)
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: medwayboy on May 20, 2010, 17:08:29
(http://i762.photobucket.com/albums/xx270/stroodboy/maidstoneROC001.jpg)
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: carolmapley on September 23, 2010, 22:43:27
It was lovely to see the pics, I joined the ROC in 1973 at Maidstone and served on Crew 1 which was led by a lovely wee officer Grace Townsend. Back then we were still using teleprinters and I often used to work in the tape relay centre on the lower ops room floor. This could get quite hairy as my job was to file incoming message on to "springs" on the wall and also retransmit messages onto sector at Horsham and RGHQ then at Dover Castle, but I wasn't supposed to know that!

Other jobs I used to do were manning display A which involved standing at the rear of a large map display and writing in information from a teller on the balcony above, This involved learning the new skill of being able to mirror write very quickly so that the scientific team at the front could read the information. I also used to have to man the post display boards on the balcony above where you spoke to the posts and displayed the information they gave you on rotating boards. Looking at the photographs they have now been removed. I also used to write the log charts again on the lower floor, this involved writing in information told to you over headphones and written on a logarithmatic chart so that the science team could keep a check on fallout levels. This was quite an awkward and somewhat difficult task insomuch just as you finished doing the 5 minute post readings you'd have to start all over again with the next burst of readings.

On the big annual NATO Intex exercise the nice ladies from the WRVS used to cook meals for us in our small kitchen. However on the more frequent Warmon exercises we had to make do either with ration packs or bring your own food in.
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: Robin on September 24, 2010, 11:05:05
Hi Carol.

I joined HQ No 1 Group a little before you in 1970, and worked on Crew 3 under Dennis Brown.  Stayed on the crew until stand-down in 92/3, finishing up as Crew Officer in charge of Crew 3, Crew 1 was then run by Terry Giles, who is still around, and Mike Mott was in charge of Crew 2, sadly, Mike passed away a couple of years ago.

Robin.
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: carolmapley on September 24, 2010, 21:37:37
Hi Robin,

We also had Frank and Brenda Tilley and do you remember Bubbles the queen of telephony? And of course not forgetting Hugh Mansfield who used to run his empire down in the tape relay centre. I was banned from the triangulation team after dropping one of the bomb tote boards onto poor old Bernard Partridge one of the warning officers below. I was bit too over enthusiastic with banging the board as it was the first burst of the exercise and dropped it. Thereafter Bernard used to give me a nervous wide berth on exercises. I met loads of real characters, I even got along with Cyril Williamson and quite liked in him, poor old Grace was always making dark mutterings about him and his "bloody paperwork, the mans obsessed"!

I later transferred over to 15 post at Hoo and then went to live in Aberdeen, joining crew 2 at the Group Control there, we later moved back south again and I went to 50 post at Folkestone. Mind you Folkestone was a microcosm of Maidstone filled with its share of characters, the Philpotts - Tony and Anne spring to mind.

Oh happy and lets face it innocent days never to be repeated.......
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: carolmapley on September 24, 2010, 22:00:46
They did say a lot of the equipment went to Newhaven fort ( I'm sure that's what they said ) . They were hoping to get some of it back to make a better experience... Fingers crossed

I think that you'll find that part of display A is in the "secret wartime tunnels" of Dover Castle, it's in the mockup of the wartime anti arircraft operations room. The tunnel exhibition was fitted out by an ex civil servant James Fox who culled the equipment and exhibits from various sources including the group control at Maidstone. Some bits may also have ended up in some of his other projects at Mistley, Anstruther and Holmpton. There are also some items from Maidstone stored down in Dumpy by English Heritage.

If you want other pieces of display they are available if you know where to look....... For a start try the former 13 Group HQ at Carmarthen which was still relatively intact until recently and 31 Group in Lisburn. Both Lisburn and Carmarthen are on MoD property and perhaps also 9 Group at Yeovil, although this site has been partially demolished there may be still be parts than can be salvaged.

Carol
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: Robin on September 24, 2010, 22:21:21
Carol.

I still see Frank and Brenda regularly, they run the ROCA branch in Maidstone.

Robin.
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: carolmapley on October 01, 2010, 09:41:02
Ahh Frank, he did quite a good line in one liners and could keep a straight face whilst delivering them. Poor old Brenda was running the triangulation table the evening that I tried to spear Bernard Partridge down on the lower floor of ops room with a tote board.
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: GP on January 26, 2018, 19:56:23
Just found this YouTube video which explains how the Royal Observer Corps operated :-

https://youtu.be/yjT_P9q_xyg

Is the former base still in Maidstone ?
Title: Re: Maidstone - No. 1 Group ROC HQ
Post by: MartinR on January 26, 2018, 22:32:43
My late mother was in the ROC during the latter part of the war.  She was based in Coventry so had a pretty good idea of what bombing did.  Two things I remember her telling me: first, mixed units were allowed during the day, but for night duty they had to be all man or all women.  No hanky-panky in the dugout please! :)
More seriously though, the ROC reported on our planes as well as the enemy, and on D-day they knew things were happening.  Not only was there an immense armada heading out, but when the planes came back there were reports of planes with parachutes caught on the tails.  I only hope the poor soldiers were dead from exposure before the horror of touchdown.