Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

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.

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30/05/2018 Posted by | Cold War | , , , , | 2 Comments

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

22/02/2018 Posted by | Cold War, council, World War II | , , , , | 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

21/11/2017 Posted by | Cold War, council, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Barnton Quarry may open to the public in 2019

A favourite of those with an interest in the history of the Cold War (and Edinburgh’s vandals), the bunker located in Barnton Quarry is moving closer to completion of its restoration and refurbishment, with a broad date of 2019 being given as its opening date as an attraction.

There may, of course, have been stories we’ve missed, but the last time we spotted something newsworthy was back in 2013: Barnton Quarry bunker to be developed as partner to Scotland’s Secret Bunker at Anstruther.

We won’t go over the story again, you can read this article about the bunker’s history.

An article published by The Scotsman in July 2017 repeated the story, adding that the bunker is expected to open to the public in 2019.

Edinburgh’s secret nuclear bunker prepares to open its doors

There’s possibly a bit of ‘journalistic leeway’ in The Scotsman’s use of ‘prepares to open its doors’, which might tend to suggest someone is about to open them in a few days, or maybe weeks – but TWO YEARS is perhaps stretching this use of the description.

Barnton Quarry

Barnton Quarry – Courtesy of Subterranea Britannica

18/07/2017 Posted by | Cold War, World War II | , , , | Leave a comment

Inverbervie Cold War Radar Station up for sale again

Last placed on the market back in 2010, Inverbervie CEW Radar Station is up for sale again.

Few details are given in the news stories relating to the offer, and when we checked the agent’s web site and searched it for details, the property was not listed – in fact, it only came up with one house for sale when we asked it for all properties in Scotland with no other criteria.

Back in 2010, offers over £250,000 were being sought.

Our summary notes:

In 1953, a Centimetric Early Warning (CEW) radar station was built on the headland. Five radar systems were installed to provided coverage of the North Sea and north coast of Scotland, and give advance warning of the approach of any potential threats.

In 1968, the station was taken over by the US Navy, and operated in conjunction with the major monitoring station based at RAF Edzell, a little over 10 miles to the west. Edzell closed in 1977, followed by Inverbervie in 1978.

The facility lay unused for the next six years, until 1984, when it was designated Reserve Headquarters for Group Headquarters and Sector Control at Craigiebarns, Dundee.

The station was finally closed and withdrawn from service in 1993.

The bunker lay unused for a further six years, purchased by the current (2007) owner in 1999.

Information recorded by RCAHMS identifies aerial photographs of the location dating from 1954, 1957, 1967, and 1973, all of which show a small T shaped building on the headland, set within an area if approximately 40 m x 20 m, assumed to be the roof of an underground structure, with related structures nearby. The underground structure is further described as lying beneath what appears to be a cottage, but is actually part of the structure’s domestic infrastructure, such as water tanks. The entrance to the underground facility is reported to be protected by a blast door, with the interior provided with artificial lighting and ventilation. While being locally rumoured to date from the 1930s, the installation is recorded as having been built in 1952, with further work carried out in the 1960s when the mezzanine floor was added.

More details and some interior shots can be found on our Wiki page.

Inverbervie CEW Guardhouse

Inverbervie CEW Guardhouse 2001 © Nick Catford

As always, our thanks to Subterranea Britannica for permission to reproduce their material.

28/06/2013 Posted by | Cold War, military | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cultybraggan Cold War bunker sold for data storage use

It’s almost a year to the day since we reported Former Cold War Regional Government Headquarters in Crieff goes up for sale.

The BBC reports that “The complex went on the market nine months ago” – which means someone there can’t count, since we referred to its own story of the sale dated January 28, 2011.

Oh well, not my problem, I’m not paying their wages. Oh – wait a minute – I pay my TV license, so that means I do.

Anyway, the bunker has been sold to Lincoln-based communications firm GCI Com Group Ltd, and will be used to store confidential computer files.

The Comrie Development Trust took ownership of the site containing the bunker back in 2007, as part of a community buy-out from the MoD for £350,000 . When the bunker was completed in 1990, it cost in the region of £30 million. When it went on sale, offers of around £400,000 were invited.

While the data centre itself will not really create any new jobs in the area – it is a technical facility full of hardware – it is seen as making the area  more attractive to investors, and has been described as bringing high-speed broadband to an area lacking such a resource. The lack of technology was given as one reason why local businesses have been held back to date.

Wayne Martin, chairman of GCI Com, said: “This will bring Comrie and the camp into the national spotlight for a best-in-breed hosting and disaster recovery centre, along with the camp benefiting from access to high-speed data that’s only really available in key cities within the UK.”

Via BBC News – Lincoln firm buys Cultybraggan nuclear bunker

Cultybraggan RGH

Cultybraggan RGH entrance in 2009 © Bill Clark

31/01/2012 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War, military, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Former Cold War Regional Government Headquarters in Crieff goes up for sale

The former purpose-built RGH (Regional Government Headquarters) was located in the grounds of a former Army camp at Cultybraggan, north of Stirling. The Army camp had been created from one of the most notorious PoW camps of World War II, which had housed so-called ‘Black’ or Category A Nazi prisoners, the most fanatical. At the end of the war, five of the inmates were hanged for the lynching of another, thought to have been a spy, or just not sufficiently zealous towards their cause.

After the war ended, the Army used the camp, and much of the surrounding area, for training purposes, with the Nissen huts serving as accommodation.

You can read more about Cultybraggan and its features, including an exploration of the bunker carried out back in 2000 (sadly, not by us), here: Secret Scotland – Cultybraggan

In 2007, a trust formed by members of the local community – the Comrie Development Trust – bought the entire camp from the MoD, including the RGHQ. Since then, it has been working to persuade business to come and open up in the area, as described in a recent business article, Companies urged to set up at former prisoner of war camp – Herald Scotland.

In October 2010, the trust launched a two-week long ‘investment fortnight’ in order to raise awareness of the site, and attract business to set up within the former PoW camp. At that time, the bunker was not part of the offer, but it was noted that Scottish Enterprise was supporting a feasibility study into converting the former nuclear bunker at the site into a data storage facility.

Companies urged to set up at former prisoner of war camp – Herald Scotland | Business | Corporate & SME

It’s worth noting that the bunker at Cultybraggan is not one of the massive underground facilities seen at some locations (such as Scotland’s Secret Bunker), buried deep and protected by reinforced concrete, plus numerous other less obvious layers to decouple it from surrounding explosions (though still not much help against a direct nuclear strike), but is of another standard construction, having two storeys, and only partially buried.

Cultybraggan RGH

Cultybraggan RGH entrance in 2009 © Bill Clark

Three months later, the bunker was placed on the market, with a suggested price of something in the order of £400,000. I guess that will either rocket upwards ff some data storage or ISP companies set their sights on the facility, or will lose a zero, and become a store, if no-one is interested. I found four tales related to the sale within the first few days, so am listing them in case any or all evaporate over time (well, I suspect the BBC’s will stay around):

BBC News – Crieff nuclear bunker goes up for sale

Luxury properties for sale: Scottish Cold War nuclear bunker – Country Life

Bomb-proof nuclear bunker goes up for sale in Scotland | Geek.com

`End-of-World’ Threat Stirs Interest in Scottish Nuclear Bunker – Bloomberg

28/01/2011 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War, military, World War II | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paul Virilio’s “Bunker Archaeology”

I tripped over a book notification which may be of interest, “Bunker Archeology” by Paul Virilio.

Paul Virilio: Bunker Archeology

Paul Virilio: Bunker Archeology

First published in 1975 (French edition), and then in 1994 as an English translation, the book has been 0ut of print for almost a decade, but has now republished by the Princeton Architectural Press.

The author analyzes the German World War II fortress bunkers along the French coast in both philosophical and architectural terms. The amazing photographs, taken by Virilio between 1958 and 1965, “capture the lonely and frightening beauty of the bunkers”. The beauty of destruction leads Virilio to the architect and minister of war Albert Speer, who he describes as a destructor rather than a constructor. (This claim alone would make the book worth a look, as Speer would probably not agree with that description).

Important historical issues like the forced employment of prisoners and deported civilians on the construction sites by Organisation Todt are mentioned in few words. In the recent past, though, historical research about national socialist bunker projects mainly focus on the dependence between war industry and the exploitation and extermination of concentration camp prisoners, who amounted to little more than slave labour. As we know now, this was not confined to the usual victims, but extended to conquered nations, where sections of the population were transported and forced to work on Nazi construction projects.

The combination of poetic pictures, philosophical essays and the historic background makes “Bunker Archeology” a compelling book. It gives answers how to face the beauty of those rotten concrete buildings without any addiction to myth or careless admiration. A great and timeless piece of work.

Courtesy of AnArchitecture – Bunker Archeology.

17/10/2009 Posted by | Cold War, World War II | , | Leave a comment

Last chance to visit Honecker nuclear bunker

Minox miniature camera - the spy's favourite for many years

Minox miniature camera - once the Cold War spy's favourite

Scheduled to be sealed with concrete after being opened for tours over the the next three months, you have only that time to visit the former East Germany and visit the bunker where Erich Honecker, who ruled the German Democratic Republic (GDR) for almost twenty years, would have been housed together with his staff and fellow communists.

The bunker, with sprung rooms to cushion its 400 residents from the effects of nuclear explosions above, reaches 230 feet (70 m) underground and hosts some 170 room on three storeys, and contains a fountain in addition to the necessary air conditioning. It lies in a forest near Wandlitz, 16 miles (25 km) northeast of Berlin, where the whole East German government was accommodated in a special colony. The bunker was surrounded by a village occupied almost entirely by members of the feared East German spy agency, the Stasi.

Described by one of those who worked on its construction as “not that top secret”, the interior which might once have been home to the Republic’s elite is now described as being covered in green slime and smelling of mould.

The BBC News report has a short video of the bunker’s interior.

The story reminded of my small collection of cameras, which includes an example of an early Minox, as favoured by spies, not only during the Cold War, but even more so during World War II, with many ingenious methods devised for transporting the cameras and their film, and the use of the microdot to move the final product, and the information it contained, to its final destination.

The mind boggles at what could have been (and is of course – espionage is not dead, especially industrial/commercial) done using modern equipment and miniaturisation, which has been freed of the constrains of requiring large mechanical components like motors and gearboxes, and the low power batteries then available.

02/08/2008 Posted by | Cold War | , , | 3 Comments

Inverness Cold War Comms Centre Sold

Part of the UNITER SSIN (Secure Survivable Integrated Network) created for the RAF by GPT (later Marconi) in the late 1970s, a nuclear hardened building which would have held part of the network at Fort George, Inverness, has been sold to a local company operating self-storage for people and business looking for somewhere safe to store valuable and documents.

The building has lain empty since the demise of the Cold War, when its 2 ft thick concrete walls, self-contained facilities such as water, heating, air-conditioning, and secure construction with no windows and steel entrance would have been expected to protect the communication facilities at its core secure for up to three months in the event of an attack.

The Inverness UNITER building can be seen in this aerial view.

Two further UNITER buildings are known in Scotland, one in Dunfermline, next to Knockill Racing Circuit, and the other in Prestwick, next to the airport.

UNITER is not an acronym, but a name chosen to reflect the original project’s aim of replacing disparate comms systems used throughout the RAF, which caused compatibility and continuity problems, and providing a united system which would have been robust if war had broken out.

26/03/2008 Posted by | Civilian, Cold War, military | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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