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Report - RAF Barnham Atomic Storage Site - November 2012

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by Zyge, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Zyge

    Zyge 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    Constructed in the 1950s under the order of Winston Churchill, this facility housed the components for Britain's first nuclear weapons as a deterrent to the threat of the Soviet Union's own nuclear programme. The Blue Danube 12 kiloton nuclear bomb could be assembled here and flown from the nearby RAF base (which is still in use).

    The site itself is a combination of industrial units and areas preserved by English Heritage. It is currently owned by a elderly gentleman named Mr. Eldred who kindly gave me a full tour of the site.

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    A map of the site, most importantly showing the 57 bunkers (actually named 'hutches') that housed one nuclear core each

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    A refurbished guard tower that wouldn't look out of place in a Vietnamese POW camp! Notice the U-bracket on top that would have held the searchlight.

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    Surrounding the facility was this wall. To the left was a security fence. In this area the Police had juristiction and the otherside of the wall was the MOD's realm

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    This guardtower is to be left as it is with no English Heritage money for refurbishment. Notice the cabin has no roof.

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    A 'hutch', or to give it it's full name "Special Weapons Store A034"

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    This loading gantry would have helped technicians remove the bomb from the 'Atomic Bomb Store' building after assembly. 3 of these stores were build, one burnt down, and the remaining 2 are rented to businesses.

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    These walkways allowed access to the hutches and were patrolled constantly during the facilities operation. Tripwires were placed outside the walkways to make it hard for intruders to walk about without being detected.

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    Another hutch with it's radioactive symbol intact. Notice the combination lock on the door. Each hutch had an anti-spark floor and lightning rod to protect against accidental detonation.

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    A closer look at the door

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    A closer look at the walkways

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    A firefighting pond. Each quadrant was served by one of these, which is now home to fish!

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    The owner has cleared this area to show what the facility would have looked like during it's lifetime. On the left are A0 hutches and the right slightly larger B0 hutches.

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    Yet another combination lock. The Air Commodore would have access to the hutches to allow technicians entry to check the status of the cores.

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    Inside each hutch is a pit. Originally these would have had metal lids as well to protect the core and the people from the core!

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    Personally I think this was a toilet! Joking. Here a Plutonium core would have sat and was small enough for a man to lift out with one hand.

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    Hutch B052 was one of 8 hutches that had a two cores, not Plutonium like the others but Cobalt-60 cores instead. As these have a half-life of 5.2 years and emit beta radiation, they were considered to be used as they would have produced more nuclear fallout than their Plutonium cousins and allow resettlement within a decade or so.

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    Original switch boxes found in each hutch

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    Showing the proximity of the hutches to the inner wall

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    A different view of the guardtower

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    A group of hutches

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    A refurbished guardtower complete with spotlight on the first level

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    A nice climb up

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    I was given a key to the tower for an explore, and I found dead flies!

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    Plus I had to squeeze through this hatch and I was not designed to fit through a triangle hole!

    Hope you have enjoyed the pics. I was given an hour or so tour of the grounds by the owner then left to my own devices for exploration and photos. I will be arranging a trip to the facility in the coming months for those who are interested.
     

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