Today the Broadway Tower Observation Bunker has been extensively restored and was officially reopened on the 20th May 2011. It can be visited several times a year during the summer months. Much of the original equipment on display was supplied by the Flixton Museum and British Telecom. The facility is now considered one of the best examples of its type in the UK. It is now an almost perfect time capsule from 1991 when it was used for the last time. It is currently managed by the management of Broadway Tower and maintained by members of the ROC Association - North Cotswold branch.
ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS - BUNKERS
Essentially a civil defence organisation reporting to the RAF Strike Command it was made up of volunteers and started in 1925. The purpose of the Royal Observer Corps was to identify potential enemy aircraft, their flight paths and possible intentions. Originally just 'The Observer Corps' they were awarded the title 'Royal' in 1941 as a mark of respect for their incredible efforts and achievements during the Battle of Britain. Their commitment and successes continued throughout WWII and became recognised as an essential part of the military infrastructure. Towards the end of the war they had a taste of their future role as they began to be used to spot guided missiles in the form of V1 Flying bombs and V2 Rockets although in the case of the latter it was usually after they had reached their target.
As the devastation of the atomic weapons used on Japan in 1945 became clear and conflict with Russia and its allies became a reality, a future use for the R.O.C. was devised. After the success of a defence planning exercise in 1958, known as Nightbird, they would continue watching the skies but now on the lookout for soviet aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. As the cold war intensified and missiles became the real threat their role changed again. The military command accepted that in the event of a nuclear strike at least some of the missiles would reach their designated targets. It would be critical to know where the detonations had taken place and the size of the explosions. In particular, it would be vital to know whether they were air burst or ground burst as this would seriously affect the amount of radioactive fallout that could be expected.
|Tupolev Tu 160 'Blackjack' Atomic Bomber circa 1994 (Wikimedia Commons)
The Royal Observer Corps was fully disbanded in 1995 as the threat of an atomic war with the Soviet Union was by then consider so unlikely as not warrant the effort involved in maintaining the Nuclear Reporting Cells. As a curious footnote it is worth noting that as recently as September 2008 a Russian nuclear bomber know as the Tupolev TU 160 'Blackjack' flew within 20 miles of Hull on the UK coast before being detected. Even after it had been located it turned out that the RAF had insufficient jet aircraft to intercept it and remind the Russians that it was politically rude to fly so close to Britain. Perhaps it's time to reinstate the R.O.C. (The Mail Online - 30 September 2008)