RAF Chenies - April 2011
After WWII, the UK
Government was caught some what with their pants down by seriously
underestimating the threat of Soviet nuclear attack. It was found that a way was
needed to develop an early warning system to counter this threat which leads to
the creation of the ROTOR project, essentially a chain of radar systems capable
of providing an early warning of any imminent Russian nuclear strike.
RAF Chenies was built as part of phase four of the project and is one of nine of the R8 type ROTOR stations built. It was both the only ROTOR station to be constructed on a green field site and the only one to be kept fully operational, the remainder were built on ex-WWII sites and kept in a state of "readiness".
Other ROTOR bunkers nearer the east coast had been constructed as sub-surface bunkers but as Chenies was located more centrally it was felt the need for protection was lessened so the buildings are of a wood-fiber and asbestos construction.
By 1958 its role as a chain radar station bunker drew to a close as the ROTOR project ended. Disposal was considered but for a while it was almost redeveloped as a missile silo site for the "Blue Streak" program before that too was cancelled. Instead it was later was used as a Strike Command communications facility up until the mid 1980's until being listed for disposal in 2004. The Met Office still have active radar on site used to estimate rain fall in the south-east. A lot more info as ever on the sub-brit site.
The site itself is mostly striped and vandalised and is really just a set of large, empty rooms. Also, due to its construction of wood fibre and asbestos, it has not stood up to the Neds and the weather as well it might which also lends the buildings a sort of cheap, nasty, pre-fabricated kind of feel.
To be fair, it does still have some seriously nice equipment in place, such as the electrical intake/switch room which is full of old equipment but best by far is the emergency generator house still complete with the original generator and peripheral equipment. Both made for some colourful photography.
The site is now
Main corridor. The rooms off the corridor where mainly used for quarters and admin.
Electrical intake room.