Kettering R.O.C. Bunker


This is the Royal Observer Corps nuclear observation bunker at Pytchley, near Kettering in Northamptonshire.

Originally decommissioned at the end of 1968 it was brought back into service to replace another nearby post which suffered badly from flooding (possibly Polebrook), then finally closed down when the ROC were disbanded in 1991.

[Kettering ROC Bunker]

The access hatch. This site is unusual in that it has metal steps to aid entry - most sites have a concrete step. The round metal object to the right of the hatch, above the ventilation grill, was for mounting the Ground Zero Indicator (GZI) - basically a pinhole camera which recorded the bearing of a nuclear explosion.

This is the ventilation shaftcap. Kettering post wasn't equipped with wireless, only telephone, as otherwise there would have been an antenna connection box mounted on the side of this.

[Kettering ROC Bunker]
[Kettering ROC Bunker]

With the hatch open you can see the ladder leading down into the bunker and the counterweight. This is the original style of hatch design. Many were replaced with the later Torlift hatch. The hatch is secured externally with two padlocks and internally with a locking handle.

The post was almost completely stripped when it was decomissioned. I've spoken to the former ROC officer who was detailed with this unhappy duty.

Often carefully recovered equipment was carelessly slung into the back of a truck by the RAF when they came to collect it.

The wiring on the wall is for the teletalk and carrier communicator. The round wooden mount was for the Bomb Power Indicator/meter.

[Kettering ROC Bunker]
[Kettering ROC Bunker]

The cupboard is standard ROC issue, as are many of the contents such as the hard government-issue toilet paper. The metal box is a gas-powered oven for re-heating food.

This is the inside end of the ventilation shaft. The sliding plate allows it to be closed-off. It wouldn't have given much protection against radioactive fallout.

[Kettering ROC Bunker]
[Kettering ROC Bunker]

This clockwork time-switch is mounted on the doorpost. It was used to provide the crew with light whilst leaving the post and would then turn the lights off. It still appears to be functional and could be heard to tick when operated.

Looking back towards the ladder you can see the handle of the manually operated sump pump (red) used to keep the bunker free of seepage water. This is still fully operational and was used to expel a small amount of water when these pictures were taken.

The triangular sign warns you to mind your head and back when entering or leaving the post.

[Kettering ROC Bunker]

Vehicular access to the site would have been via a gate in the hedge (now heavily overgrown) which opens onto a quiet country lane. The general condition is fair, with no sign of vandalism, although there was a small amount of water in the sump which was pumped out.

I visited the post with Dick Church, treasurer of the local allotments society who own the site. He is happy to allow visitors and I can provide contact details for anyone who wishes to have a look at the post. The hatch is securely locked - please, no break-ins.


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Copyright (c)1999-2000 Gary Marden (20 July 2000)