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Report - Orfordness - March 16

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by Nebula, Mar 14, 2016.

  1. Nebula

    Nebula 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Jan 24, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Hi everyone.

    So after 10 minutes of looking at Martello tower in Aldeburgh i needed something else to fill my day so of course i consulted google maps and saw orfordness. Slightly under estimating the distance i waddled off up the coastline. This was at about midday by 1pm i had run out of drinking water but more importantly rizzlas! I think its a good 4 mile walk to the light house but on loose shingle it feels more like 20 lol.

    I really enjoyed this place really quite remote not meeting 1 person the whole 7 or 8 hours i was there.

    I will post some history but not too much i'm sure everybody knows enough. ​

    Orfordness Lighthouse,

    The first lights in this area were constructed in 1637 a pair of wooden leading lights. These were replaced in 1780 by a pair of brick towers. Scarcely a dozen years later the lower light of the two was precariously close to the sea due to shore erosion; it collapsed not long afterwards.
    In 1792, anticipating this inevitability, the landowner Lord Braybrooke built a new 'high light' in a different position. This is the lighthouse which still stands today.

    The old high light then functioned as the new 'low light', until it too was lost to erosion in 1887.
    The low light was not replaced again; instead, in 1888, red and green sectors were added to the high light.

    The lighthouse was further modernised in 1914 a new revolving optic was installed (which remained in use for 99 years), and a new additional light was installed along with fixed lenses at a level below the lantern, so the sector lights now shone from windows on the tower.
    The lighthouse was electrified in 1959, and in 1964 it became the first lighthouse to be monitored by telemetry from Harwich, ushering in a process of lighthouse automation which continued around England over the next 35 years.

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    The peninsula was formerly administered by the Ministry of Defence, which conducted secret military tests during both world wars and the Cold War.
    The site was selected as the location for the Orfordness Beacon, one of the earliest experiments in long-range radio navigation. The Beacon was set up in 1929 and used in the pre-war era. In the 1930s Orford Ness was the site of the first purpose built experiments on the defence system that would later be known as radar. Having proved the technology on Orford Ness Robert Watson-Watt and his team moved to nearby Bawdsey Manor
    and developed the Chain Home radar system in time for its vital role in the Battle of Britain.

    The Atomic Weapons Research Establishment had a base on the site, used for environmental testing,
    i.e. when a laboratory test is conducted to determine the functional performance of a component or system under conditions that simulate the real environment in which the component or system is expected to operate. Many of the buildings from this time remain clearly visible from the quay at Orford,
    including the distinctive "pagodas". Whilst it is maintained that no fissile material was tested on the site,
    the very high explosive initiator charge was present and the buildings were designed to absorb any accidental explosion, allowing gases and other material to vent and dissipate in a directed or contained manner. In the event of a larger accident, the roofs were designed to collapse onto the building, sealing it with a lid of concrete and shingle.

    In the late 1960s an experimental Anglo-American military over-the-horizon radar known as Cobra Mist was built on the peninsula. It closed in 1973, and in the late 1970s and early 1980s the site and building were re-used for the Orfordness transmitting station.
    This powerful medium wave radio station - originally owned and run by the Foreign Office, then the BBC and, after privatization in the 1990s, a series of private companies - was best known for transmitting the BBC World Service in English around the clock to continental Europe on 648 kHz from September 1982 until March 2011. The station has been disused since May 2012.

    Orford Ness is now owned by the National Trust and is open to the public under the name "Orford Ness National Nature Reserve",
    though access is strictly controlled to protect the fragile habitats and due to a residual danger to the public from the site's former use by the military. Access is therefore only available by the National Trust ferry from Orford Quay on designated open days.

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    thanks for looking,


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  2. HughieD

    HughieD 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    Jan 15, 2013
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    That report is awesomeness!
    Nebula likes this.
  3. Speed

    Speed Got Epic?
    Regular User

    Nov 15, 2005
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    Good work not taking the tour! Im sure it was much more enjoyable
  4. Nebula

    Nebula 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Jan 24, 2016
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    Just me and the sea gulls haha good day out eerily quiet tho.
    The Lone Ranger likes this.
  5. The Lone Ranger

    The Lone Ranger Safety is paramount!
    Staff Member Moderator

    Feb 25, 2010
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    Home Page:
    Good effort :thumb

    I'd like to have a stroll here myself at some point, you captured the place nicely.
  6. Cloudseed

    Cloudseed 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Jan 18, 2013
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    Lovely stuff. Gonna put this on my summer list.
  7. Goldie87

    Goldie87 28DL Regular User
    Regular User

    May 3, 2007
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    Good stuff, I really must get around to paying a visit.
  8. "Bert" Weedon

    "Bert" Weedon Alan "Bert" Weedon, ex Bawdsey, ex Orfordness
    28DL Full Member

    Apr 14, 2017
    Likes Received:
    Thanks for the report Nebula and the excellent photos. If anyone visits in future, keep an eye out for unexploded ordnance. During WW1 era Orfordness was used as an experimental bombing range. I think most have popped back up by now, but in the 70's there were many old unexploded bombs found there, if you do find one, obviously leave it alone, mark it and report it to the police.
    pirate likes this.
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