Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Nice! Nuclear archive wins Scotland’s best building award

I’ve no idea how many people have even heard of the Nuclear Archive, or if anybody has.

Sadly, it’s not the sort of place that has ever received any media attention, or publicity, and I only know about it because of my electrical engineering interests (which inevitably means nuclear power), and following the tale of Dounreay, and its decommissioning (which does feature regularly in the news – from the BBC at least).

A national archive for the civil nuclear industry has won a top Scottish architecture prize.

Nucleus in Wick has been constructed to hold more than 70 years’ worth of information and up to 30 million digital records.

It has won the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award for 2018.

Nucleus, built at a cost of £21m, was chosen from a shortlist of a total of 12 designs.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority had the facility constructed at a former RAF site. The archive was opened last year.

Many of the documents, photographs and technical drawings it will hold relate to Dounreay, an experimental nuclear power complex 30 miles (48km) away from Wick.

Papers, photographs and plans are also being sent for storage from nuclear sites at Harwell in Oxfordshire, Trawsfynydd in Snowdonia and Sellafield in Cumbria.

Nucleus will also store local archives dating back to the 16th Century.

Nuclear archive wins Scotland’s best building award

It was interesting to see this facility being conceived some years ago, in light of problems I saw being revealed in the US.

Although the ‘Nuclear Naysayers’ (the hairy folk that run around shouting “It’s nuclear, it’s nuclear, we’re all going to DIE!”) don’t like to acknowledge the fact, many nuclear facilities have been closed over the years, and one of the unanticipated effects of these closures is that the people and knowledge they contained has, simply been lost.

Nobody thought of the future.

Nuclear is not, in itself, evil. It’s just a thing. But some people (cough cough Trump cough) might be.

It seems that now, when we need to do things like maintenance, a lot of the original information has been lost, together with the facilities needed to back them up.

Worse, simple old age means that many of the experienced people who worked on such things are dead, making it hard to ask for their advice, or use their experience.

Maybe the National nuclear archive will help prevent us doing something similarly silly, or even having a small, preventable disaster one day.

National Nuclear Archive Pic Via BBC Credit Tricia Malley/Ross Gillespie

National Nuclear Archive Pic Via BBC Credit Tricia Malley/Ross Gillespie

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Nov 16, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War | , , | Leave a comment

Two stories that unfortunately coincided yesterday

I thought it was sad to see a story about Orange Moron taking us closer to disaster on the same day we heard of the death of a real hero who saved us from going down that road.

 

Donald Trump: US will build up nuclear arsenal

 

Joachim Ronneberg: Norwegian who thwarted Nazi nuclear plan dies

 

I’m not generally at a loss for words to express my feelings about many subjects, but this Orange Moron does quite a good job of bringing this about.

 

Maybe this reminder of the current time shown by the Doomsday Clock for 2018 is appropriate.

 

2018 Doomsday Clock 2 Minutes To Midnight

 

The last time it got down to 2 minutes was 1953!

 

The best it has been was 1991, when The United States and Soviet Union signed the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), and the Soviet Union dissolved on December 26.

 

See:

2018 Doomsday Clock Statement, Science and Security Board, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Oct 23, 2018 Posted by | Cold War, military, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

RAF100 to visit the Glasgow Science Centre with five aircraft

Hopefully this won’t change after I mention it, but I spotted an interesting (free) event which is set to arrive at the Glasgow Science Centre this weekend (Friday to Sunday, 31 August to 2 September),  specifically…

Open on Friday 9am to 5.30pm – Last admittance is at 5pm.

Open on Saturday and Sunday 9am to 6pm – Last admittance is at 5.30pm.

On show:

  • Sopwith Snipe Biplane
  • Supermarine Spitfire MkVb
  • Harrier GR3 – (first VSTOL production aircraft)
  • Typhoon Full Scale Replica
  • F35 (LII) Full Scale Replica

Iconic fighter planes from past 100 years to go on display in Glasgow this summer as part of RAF100 Aircraft Tour

RAF100 Aircraft Tour Glasgow

RAF100 Aircraft Tour

 

RAF100 Publcity Image

RAF100 Publicity Image

Update

Red Arrows cancel Glasgow flypast for RAF centenary

Aug 27, 2018 Posted by | Aviation, Cold War, photography, Transport, World War I, World War II | , , | Leave a comment

Another ROC post in the news – Cabrach

Another nuclear monitoring post of the Royal Observer Corps has appeared in the media.

A bunker constructed 20ft (6m) underground in the Cabrach hills of Moray has been opened to the public for the first time.

Post 32, a caravan-sized facility, was part of a network of hundreds of sites staffed by volunteers of the Royal Observer Corps during the Cold War.

It was built in the 1960s to monitor fallout from any future nuclear weapons attack.

The bunker, along with the other sites, were closed in the early 1990s.

Nuclear war bunker in Moray opened to public for first time

Funny thing…

The posts that make it into the news generally seem to be sites I didn’t make it to when I was dashing around the country ‘collecting’ them some years ago.

But thank to my friends at Subterranea Britannica, I can at least share a pic.

Cabrach Post Courtesy Nick Catford Subterranea Britannica

Cabrach Post Courtesy Nick Catford Subterranea Britannica

Follow this link for the original record.

The Cabrach Trust has a couple of items relating to the post.

I’d dispute the title of the first, and am surprised ROC post personal let it go – the posts were nothing to do with the concept of a ‘Nuclear Deterrent’, were not military, and were crewed by civilian volunteers.

How the Cabrach became a nuclear deterrent.

And.

Join us on August 18th for our Open Day

Aug 19, 2018 Posted by | Cold War | , | Leave a comment

Russian mystery satellite? What mystery, it’s obvious

I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the following story, and the portrayal of the Russian satellite’s behaviour as ‘mysterious’.

A mysterious Russian satellite displaying “very abnormal behaviour” has raised alarm in the US, according to a State Department official.

“We don’t know for certain what it is and there is no way to verify it,” said assistant secretary Yleem Poblete at a conference in Switzerland on 14 August.

She voiced fears that it was impossible to say if the object may be a weapon.

Russia has dismissed the comments as “unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions”.

The satellite in question was launched in October last year.

“[The satellite’s] behaviour on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before from on-orbit inspection or space situational awareness capabilities, including other Russian inspection satellite activities,” Ms Poblete told the conference on disarmament in Switzerland.

Mystery Russian satellite’s behaviour raises alarm in US

Surely the solution to this supposed ‘mystery’ is obvious, and our American friend need only look to the north of Scotland to learn why the Russian satellite is moving to an odd position.

It’s angling to keep an eye on the upcoming…

Scottish spaceport

The fantasy view (as a vertical launch facility for microsatellites, it won’t look anything remotely like this fanciful artist’s impression).

Think more along the lines of a portacabin and a lump of concrete.

UK Space Agency Spaceport

UK Space Agency Spaceport

Aug 17, 2018 Posted by | Cold War, military, Surveillance, Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Little nuclear bunker offered for sale in the Scottish Borders

Although I was able to visit quite a few of the abandoned ROC (Royal Observer Corps) Nuclear Monitoring Posts left around Scotland some years ago, I didn’t manage to loop around all those in the Borders, and couldn’t recognise this one featured in a news story about it being offered for sale.

A bit of digging confirmed this, as it is the post located near Traquair.

Bought by an art and antiques dealer back in 2003, he’s gone off to the Philippines, so no longer needs the potential ‘holiday home’, and placed it on the market… for £20,000.

I’ve no idea how that relates to prices for the posts nowadays, but when I was flitting from post to post somewhere around the turn of the millennium, those who chose to speak to me hinted (they wouldn’t give the actual figure) that they had parted with somewhere between £3.5 k to £5 k.

Given I knew them, and their circumstances, that was believable, and none of them could have afforded to splash out £20 k on a whim.

When the Traquair post was sold back in 2003, it had previously been purchased by a telecoms company. Such companies had bought quite a few theses posts, not for the posts, but for the location/site, which was often in a good locations for a mobile phone mast. Such masts can now be found near quite a few of the abandoned posts.

Via Cold War nuclear bunker goes on sale in Borders

Traquir ROC Post

Traquair ROC Post © Subterranea Britannica (used with permission)


See also the site record: Traquair, Peebles.

May 30, 2018 Posted by | Cold War | , , , , | 2 Comments

Sad dog is sad

This guy was looking at me as if to say “Do they mean dog years or human years?”

While it may not be accurate (it’s more complex than a simple equivalence), it’s often taken that one dog year is about seven human years.

This means things are quite good for them if it’s dog years, since a dog will be in its twenties by the time it has been around for more than two human years.

But the other side of this thought is that if our dog has to wait for 25 human years – well, by then it’s going to be something like 150 dog years.

And that’s maybe the thought this little face is conveying.

Sad Dog

Sad Dog

Mar 31, 2018 Posted by | Cold War, photography | , , | Leave a comment

Siberia in Scotland suggests time to plan holiday

The current blast of cold air we are ‘enjoying’ from Russia/Siberia is dragging our average temperature below 3°C, and last night took a dive below -3°C at one point.

I’m hoping the forecast remains accurate (woke up to snow this morning). Although it shows this nonsense carrying on until the end of the week, things get better after that and the daytime max is predicted to start rising again.

Because this is cold air being ‘parachuted’ in, it actually feels a lot colder that it did during the frosts and freezes we had a couple of weeks ago.

I was thinking it would be nice NOT to be here at the moment, and this bus trip to go see an atomic bomb being detonated seemed both a bargain and a good idea at the moment.

You might even come back with a nice warm glow that could last for a while, just like the Ready Brek kids.

Warm Day Trip

Warm Day Trip

Some say…

They brought in kids that lived near Sellafield when they filmed this series of ads 😉

Feb 27, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War | , , , | Leave a comment

Inverness bunker sold

Back in November (2017) I noted the offer for sale of the Highland Emergency Centre (Raigmore) in inverness.

See that previous post for details.

I had no idea if it would or wouldn’t sell, or how long it would take if it did, or even what it was worth (prices vary, sometimes wildly).

The offer closed in December, and now the news is that it was sold, so I’ve missed another one.

So far, no details of price, buyer, or use it may be put to.

Past sales have led to clubs, or secure storage facilities.

Via Offer accepted for Highland Council’s Inverness bunker

Inverness Bunker Via Sub-Brit

Inverness Bunker Via Sub-Brit

Feb 22, 2018 Posted by | Cold War, council, World War II | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Doomsday Clock is now at 2 minutes to midnight

It’s some years since I started watching The Doomsday Clock, and it was a little known finger on the pulse of how close we were to the ‘End of the World’.

It’s come to be better known today, so I seldom think about mentioning it, but since it has gone from moving slowly backwards and further from midnight, the past few years have been increasingly depressing, and far from the 17 minutes to midnight we once ‘enjoyed’, as per the title the clock has now advanced to be a mere 2 minutes from midnight.

I wonder how much of this advance is down to the ‘Orange Moron’?

See The Doomsday Clock Timeline

Doomsday Clock Summary

Doomsday Clock Summary

Via Doomsday Clock moved to just 2min to ‘apocalypse’

Who would have thought…

Having lived through the Cold War – anyone would be thinking it would be nice to be back in those days?

Seriously, at least we didn’t have two clearly mentally unstable nut jobs in control of nuclear weapons (and one who has no understanding of climate change and is actively thwarting attempts to reign it in), while another superpower leader is effectively sitting on the sidelines, and would appear to be happy to let the idiots fight it out, and wait to just step in and take over as neither would be able to offer any effective resistance.

Jan 25, 2018 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War, military | | Leave a comment

There goes another Cold War bunker (I didn’t buy)

One of the sad things about the 10+ years that have passed since I was talked into starting ‘something’ regarding the secret side of Scotland is the slow disappearance of most of the resources which fuelled the early days.

Then, ‘secret’ was meant to encompass what the media has come to rely on as Urban Exploration or UrbEx, and use as a clickbait term to attract outrage at this supposedly deadly hobby which puts lives at risk, and encourages lawbreaking through trespass (although it generally neglects the subtle difference between trespass law in Scotland, compared to England). Most cases cited or decried as ‘trespass’ here probably aren’t – and if you think I’m going to tell you why, forget it! I’m not giving away the research I did years ago for free. This was back in the days just prior to the completion and issue of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, when much of the background material was then placed online, but has slowly evaporated over the years (so I can no longer refer to the legal sources that were then made available).

Most of the references for ‘secret’ places, sites, installations, facilities, operations, etc that were to be found online some ten years ago have largely evaporated from the Internet. If you want evidence of this, just try looking up some of the more ‘interesting’ pages in SeSco’s Wiki. I used to update the reference links with the added text ‘Dead link‘ (to show, at least, where the original info had come from), but after a while decided this had  become a waste of time, as I was finding more and more had died and gone over the years.

Sad to say, I probably couldn’t create many of the Wiki pages if I was starting today (at least not via online research).

But that doesn’t stop the odd place, such as a former Cold War bunker at Raigmore, Inverness. However, it was not built for that purpose, and dates from World War II, when it was used as a centre which handled reports from outlying radar stations, as a Sector Operation Centre.

After the war it was used by the RAF for training, then from 1958 to 1968 by the Civil Defence Corps, and finally (from the 1980s) as an emergency centre for Highland Regional Council (as it was then), to be used in the event of a nuclear attack.

Sad to say I never visited this site, like many that were easy to get to, I just never made the time.

There’s a proper account here, from our old friends at Sub-Brit:

Site Name: Inverness – Highland Emergency Centre (Raigmore)

Highland Council is now divesting itself of the site and its responsibility for the abandoned facility.

A bunker built to survive a direct hit from World War Two’s most powerful bombs has been offered for sale.

The subterranean property in the Raigmore area of Inverness was upgraded in the 1980s during the Cold War.

The enhancements included a capability to protect those inside from a nuclear, biological or chemical attack.

Highland Council, which owns the site, has offered bids for the bunker. Viewing of the property is “strictly by prior appointment”.

A closing date on 6 December has been set for offers for the property, which is close to Inverness city centre.

Via Highland Council selling Inverness’ bunker

This view of the former mounded filter room with the (then) current emergency planning admin block to the left – image courtesy of our friends at Subterranea Britannica.

Inverness Bunker Via Sub-Brit

Inverness Bunker Via Sub-Brit

Nov 21, 2017 Posted by | Cold War, council, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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