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The Sussex Secret Bunkers
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The UK radar system was rapidly run down after the end of the Second World War. It was then envisaged that it would be at least another ten years before another conflict in the European / Atlantic theatre, but the first Soviet nuclear test in 1949, and cold war changed this view irreparably. 

The perceived threat was the Soviet Tu-4 long-range four engine bombers armed with 20 Kt yield atomic bombs. It was doubtful that the run down state of the UK's air defences that they could have been detected and intercepted. In 1949 the Cherry report recommended an urgent overhaul and improvement of the UK's air defences, under the codename Rotor. It was recommended that a network of some 170 radar sites left over from the last war be rationalised and consolidated to 66 sites, and that the best existing radar be completely re-built to higher peacetime standards. The essential elements of the wartime Control and Reporting structure was to be retained: - a hierarchical command and control system, separate sectors etc. The contract was given to the Marconi Wireless and Telegraph Company and was the largest government contract awarded to a UK firm.

 The re-manufactured radar equipment consumed valuable manpower and resources, at a time when the country was under dire economic circumstances, with rationing still in place for many items. But this effort resulted in massive improvement in reliability and maintainability, as well as performance: some equipment had its range more than doubled. All achieved in complete secrecy. 

 Research commenced on a new Centimetric Early Warning (CEW) radar, code named Green Garlic, later known as Type 80, as a replacement for the Chain Home / Ground Controlled Intercept radars. But for the meantime the primary long-range warning came from 28 selected rebuilt coastal Chain Home sites. 38 other sites were chosen for a variety of roles: Chain Home Extra Low (CHEL), CEW and GCI, using standardised sets of equipment: either the Type 7 or 11 GCI sets or the Type 13 and 14 centimetric sets.

 The Rotor project was divided into two areas, east coast and west coast, partly as an economy measure. The threat was seen as higher on the east coast, so the majority of the sites had underground-protected operations rooms. The west coast had mainly surface bunkers or semi-sunk ones. The distinctive feature of the east coast sites was the bungalow, which served as access/guardroom to the bunkers. The bungalow concealed an access corridor, which led to a one-, two- or three-level bunker.

 These bunkers were known as R1 for single level bunkers, R2, R3 and the SOC - R4. In construction, a massive hole was first dug and usually extensive de-watering had to take place. The bunker was then constructed and buried under earth. The bunker had 10-foot thick ferro-concrete walls, complete with its own borehole, generators and filtered air conditioning. They were supposed to give protection against a near miss by a 20 kT nuclear weapon. The west coast sites had similarly massive bunkers, but built on the surface.

 The whole Rotor programme consumed 350,000 tons of concrete, 20,000 tons of steel and thousands of miles of telephone and telex connections. The project progressed with the usual delays. But two developments came like a bombshell.


The arrival of the Type 80 in early 1953 changed the whole concept of Rotor bunker. It was realised that it could provide CEW and GCI functions at one installation. It was also found that on exercises, it was far easier to control the interceptors from the radar site itself. There was simply too long a delay in the transfer of data in the original Rotor concept.

 With the Soviet H-bomb in 1955 and the advent of supersonic, high-flying bombers, every second saved in warning and control was vital. A system designed to counter a 400 mph piston-engine bomber just could not cope with the new threat. The system of Master Radar Stations (MRS) was conceived.

 With the Type 80, warning and control could both be handled at the same site with the same radar. The superior range of this radar meant that fewer sites were needed. Although many Rotor sites became Master Radar Stations, many more became redundant, The surplus sites, some less than two years old, were cleared and transferred to other government departments.

In Sussex three Rotor bunker exist varying in condition

 Truleigh Hill, (five miles due north of Shoreham)

Currently in private ownership and visits are actively discourage. The bungalow is in good condition as is the bunker. The site is used by BT for their microwave data circuits (from Shoreham telephone exchange) and pager network. Other Licence operators also use the site for Local radio etc. The site has an excellent web site at http://schoolsite.edex.net.uk/468/truleigh.htm

Beachy Head (Three miles west of Eastbourne)

Demolished The bungalow has been demolished and the shafts sealed. The only evidence of it existence is a manhole cover, some rubble and curiously a public telephone box!

Web sire at http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/sites/b/beachy_head/

 Wartling no information
The main giveaway is the very distinctive, which stands over the entrance to the underground bunker complex. The design of this bungalow has features common to many GPO telephone exchanges (the bungalow is virtually identical to the UAX13 Telephone exchange building in Linfield, West Sussex). One cannot but wonder if they came from the same Ministry of Works drawing office. The circular fanlights and verandas make for a very attractive building.

 Other sites of Historical Interest

Crowborough  - Aspidistra This site was originally home to a high-power (500 kW) medium wave broadcasting transmitter, built for the Political Warfare Executive (PWE) in WWII. This transmitter was purchased in the USA in 1941 and consisted of three 170-kW units connected in series.

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

 Horsham - Horsham was the Royal Observer Corps' No.2 Group HQ, and the UKWMO Metropolitan Sector HQ

 World War 2 Radar Stations
Poling CHL Station WW2 and a part of the Truliegh Stanmore link
Trundle Unknown
Fairlight CHL for the Hasting Area
Pevensey CHS
Rye - CHS

Information for this page came from the subbrit website and acknowledgment is given. - link www.subbrit.org.uk

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