Sunday, 18 October 2015

ROC posts!

When it comes to exploring, I have this love/hate relationship with all the vandals of the world. I personally do not force entry or vandalise the places I explore, but on the other hand, I'd probably explore a lot less places if other people hadn't come along and already done it! So there's a delicate balance. The trick is to get in after someone has forced entry, but before news of it gets so widespread that its all pillaged and ruined. And I think I hit the nail on the head with a certain ROC post.

Now I won't be disclosing which ROC post this is. There's around twenty within my easy travel radius and some of the locked ones have been broken into recently, and given that this blog has been focusing on ROC posts lately and these posts have generally been super popular, the situation has me a little uneasy. I have to cover my own back. I understand it's tempting to do things like this, and the place isn't trashed so whoever forced their way in probably only wanted to see it, just like I do, but "Shrewsbury From Where You Are Not" has a reputation, and it's this reputation that awards me access to places like the Library, the Hole in the Wall, the Castle and the Music Hall. So I do need to go on record saying this- I don't condone forced entry. Remember, trespass without forcing entry is only a civil offence. It becomes a criminal offence when entry is forced or if property is damaged, and also if the owners ask you to leave and you refuse or are rude to them.

If anyone gets arrested accessing places I've blogged about, I'm not responsible. I don't condone breaking and entering.

But that doesn't stop the handsome opportunistic devil that I am exploiting what people do! Here's another ROC post!

*Cue dramatic music.*

Now for obvious reasons, namely not wanting to cause any more of these places any damage, I won't be saying which ROC post this is. It took several hours to get to and I was joined by an accomplice who we shall refer to as the Tree Surgeon. There's no special story, it's what he does for a living. He's joined me before, on my trip to the top of the Library tower, and after expressing an interest in abandoned military installations, I decided to bring him along.

As a little exposition, ROC stands for Royal Observer Corps, and there were 1,563 of these installations built all over the UK in the 1950s to serve as nuclear monitoring stations. They also served as bunkers in the event of a nuclear attack, although the defences and equipment used to monitor nuclear blasts were crude and primitive. The living space was fifteen by eight feet in size, and crammed in there were beds, work stations and a primitive toilet. 

It was light when we set off but dark by the time we got there due to an underestimating of the time it would take, plus the change in seasons. And given the rural location it sure did add an eerie element to it! ROC post shafts are fifteen feet deep and so narrow that I couldn't descend down the ladder with my rucksack on my back. I had to hold it above my head. Of course this adds further nuissance as I'd far rather have both hands on the ladder.

Lets face it, this ominous fifteen feet shaft with an ambiguous ladder condition isn't going to put me off is it?

Nope! It sure isn't!

And due to this being a property someone had recently forced entry to, Tree Surgeon shut the hatch as he followed me down the ladder, as a precaution should the land owner happen to pass and notice the hatch open. I did wonder on the sound proofing. Could we be heard talking from the surface? More sinister was the fact that we could potentially be locked in. That Thora Birch movie "The Hole" sprang to mind. For scares and thrills, I don't need movies!

By the way, did anyone notice that in spite of the movie being set in the UK, Thora Birch dialled 911 to get the emergency services at the start of the movie? But I digress.

 As usual, at the bottom of the ladder was this pump mechanism, in perhaps the best condition I've seen in a ROC post so far.

The main room was truly amazing though.

It's in much better condition than both the Nesscliffe and Church Stretton ROC posts. And to think, this was just sitting underground all this time, with the rest of the world oblivious to it!

Some of the old communications equipment was still down there, and on closer inspection I realised that this odd brown box was actually a battery.

The cupboard was full of artefacts from when the place was in use.

The candles wrapped in bubblewrap were probably brought here at some point after it officially closed, maybe by people camping out in here. Now that's an awesome thought!

I was quite surprised to find a vintage can of scouring powder, and find that it was still full.

There was a rope in the cupboard, along with a vintage metal dustpan.

 Vintage toilet paper, textured like regular paper. No flushing mechanism, and no comfort in wipage, in the bottom of a hole with crude protection against nuclear attacks. Pretty poor working conditions by todays standards!

And there was a box that once contained a torch, although this was long gone. I assume that when the place closed down, all the smaller objects of any value were removed, and all that was left were objects considered of little to no value or too large to lug up the narrow entry shaft. 

It's very strange to find such ordinary mundane objects in styles that predate my existence by several decades.

On the wall were a bunch of old telecom equipment, in terrific condition.

As usual, there was a fire blanket box, now without the fire blanket.

The air vents at the back were still in place, but there was also a circular ceiling vent, and nearby was a perfectly sized circular ventilation cover, which still had the bolts in place, so that we could cut off our air supply in the event of a nuclear blast. Suffocation is way better than radiation poisoning.

Among other things, there was still tissue in a bin under the desk.

The crate next to the desk seems to have once contained a hand-operated siren, and still contained instructions for how to use it.

The large box in the corner was apparently for battery containment. We decided then, seeing as we were underground and the hatch was shut, to see if the lights could be made to work again. We even tried fitting the battery on the desk up to it, but the light didn't come on.

And that's another ROC post written about and photographed. I'm in two minds about the situation. All things considered I did enjoy exploring this place. It was in so much better condition than all the others I've been to so far! It had an atmosphere, and I really got a feel for what it would be like to be stationed in a remote underground outpost during a time when nuclear strikes were being taken very seriously. It's strange because nearly everyone alive today has grown up in a world where nuclear weapons exist, and we're just getting on with life. But there was a time when it was all new, and people were terrified.

Shropshire has a surprising amount of abandoned military ruins, from the 1940s through to the 1960s, the logic being that if Britain is to get attacked, it's more likely to happen in the major cities, of which Shropshire has none.
Of course, the crude safety precautions and living conditions in their bunkers is a lovely reminder that for those in positions of authority, making it look like one cares about people is a lot less expensive than actually caring about them.

The awesome thing is these little nuclear monitoring bunkers are everywhere! And this is only the third I've written about, but I think I'll make them few and far between from now on. Rather than seeking them out, I'll swing by them should one happen to be in the vicinity when I'm exploring an area. Blogging about these would get rather repetitive otherwise. I mean how many more variations can they take?

If you have any information or stories regarding any of the places featured on Shrewsbury From Where You Are Not, please get in touch. And if you want to be updated on new articles or even just to chat, follow my social media empire. I'm on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Find me, add me, we'll be buddies.

Thanks for reading. Stay awesome!


  1. The telecoms box on the wall read 'British Telecom' and that did not happen until the late 70's....Strange??

    1. It's not that strange. They would have gotten more modern technology during the years it was open.

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