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Report - Crowborough RGHQ 6.1 & Aspidistra - July 2008

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by MarkR, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. MarkR

    MarkR 28DL Member
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    This was an organised visit kindly allowed by Sussex Police. It is a secure site, please do not attempt to visit the site without permission.

    Text from Subterranea Britannica:

    This site was originally home to a high-power (600 kW) medium wave broadcasting transmitter, built for the Political Warfare Executive in WW2. This transmitter was purchased in the USA in 1941 and consisted of three 170-kW units connected in parallel. The underground site had been prepared with the assistance of Canadian forces personnel.

    The BBC obtained partial use of the station from 8th November 1942 to broadcast its European Service. At other times this transmitter, known colloquially as Aspidistra, was used by the PWE for `black' broadcasting. This started on 30th January 1943.

    After the war the transmitter was operated for many years by the Foreign Office's Diplomatic Wireless Service, and hired by the BBC to broadcast the World Service to Europe. After the transmitter closed, the Home Office built RGHQ ( Regional Government Headquarters ) 6.1 here in 1984-6 to replace the former site underneath Dover Castle known as Dumpy.

    The RGHQ was constructed by gutting the original Aspidistra bunker and inserting a mezzanine floor. A new wing at the uppermost level was added to house the generators, air conditioning plant, etc., and to provide a new entrance.

    The original Aspidistra entrance on the lowest level has been retained and there is a vehicle ramp to that level. The remainder of the Kings Standing site is largely intact, although many buildings are in a poor state. The above-ground Aspidistra transmitter hall is interesting because it was designed by a cinema architect, as was the original bunker.

    The Home Office closed this site, with the rest of the RGHQs, in 1992. Since then the bunker has been used on all three levels by Sussex police for training.

    First lot, the RGHQ bunker:

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  2. MarkR

    MarkR 28DL Member
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    Re: Crowborough RGHQ 6.1 & Aspidistra - July 2008 - REPORT

    The remaining Aspidistra buildings

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  3. peterblake

    peterblake Guest
    Guest

    Re: Crowborough RGHQ 6.1 & Aspidistra - July 2008 - REPORT

    Contrary to what Sub Brit say the entire Aspidistra bunker was removed leaving only a back concrete wall and the old exit tunnel, everything else went and the site was an entirely new build apart from those remaining two bits. It is a standard 1980's RGHQ design as basically repeated at Chilmark and Cultybraggan, although parts of the layouts on each site vary due to small cosntructional differences and the extent of the landfill above the buildings.

    The Aspidistra bunker was much more interesting, in fact a work of art and there are osme pictures of it on other sites - It was a case of total vandalism by the Home Office when they gouged out the old site and a real piece of histiry was lost forever.

    The Sspidistra transmitter was at one stage just about the most powerful site in the UK and a similar installation was located at Ottringham in East Yorkshire, although that was not underground and has been entirely removed apart from a small basement room.

    In the original plant at crowborough all the surface building shsoudl have bene removed, but this never happened, and the site was truly magnificent when it had all it's transmitter towers all over the landscape above.

    The RGHQ at Crowborough was intended to replace the RSG at Dover Castle but it never really came on line and parts of it were never completed and decorated fully, as the Cold War ended and all these sites were sold off..................Peter.
     
  4. peterblake

    peterblake Guest
    Guest

    Re: Crowborough RGHQ 6.1 & Aspidistra - July 2008 - REPORT

    The outer shell of the original building partly remained but the whole interior was completely stripped out and replaced, literally opened from the top down. This accounts for some variations in the walls and some of the old brickwork remaining. The architects plans clearly show internal excavation of the original site, which would simply not have been suitable for the new building. Apart from that the saddest thing was the destruction of the original Aspidistra Bunker which was an amazing design and much more interesting than the modern RGHQ that replaced it.......Peter.
     
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