Hello everyone! Liam and I were fortunate enough to get a tour round the Stow Maries Aerdrome which is an amazing place and is worth a visit for WW1 and aviation enthusiasts! (A blog post will be coming soon) After looking around the site, we had a couple of hours free to look around the area so we planned to visit the Woodham Ferres ROC post. The only ROC post that we have been to before is the Canvey Island one which has been capped with mud meaning we cannot get in however this one was open and waiting for us!
What are ROC posts?
The Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was a defence warning organisation operating from 1925. It was created to provide a system for detecting, tracking and reporting enemy aircraft over Britain. They played a very important part during World War Two. The end of the Second World War brought with it the new and terrifying prospect of nuclear war. In Britain the public would have had a mere four minute warning of the approach of nuclear missiles and it was the job of the Royal Observer Corps to warn the public of the impending attack, report the explosions and plot the path of the deadly nuclear fallout. From 1955 the Corps operated from 1563 ROC underground monitoring ‘posts’ about 7-8 miles apart from each other throughout the UK. In 1968 the Corps was re-organised and about half of the posts were closed. In September 1991 the remaining 872 posts were stood down and were abandoned.
The image below shows the diagram of one. This site is very useful if you want to know more about ROC posts.
Woodham Ferrers Post
We had to walk up quite a steep hill to get there with amazing views looking far and wide in different directions. The first bit that we came to was this, a ventilation shaft. Although posts already had one vent shaft attached to the hatch area, a second one was constructed at the far end of the post, this one lead into the main observers room while the first on the hatch lead to the smaller toilet room/area, metal or wooden louvered vents were attached to either side.
After this we headed over to the main beast which was a few steps in the opposite directions. I was the first to go down and armed with just a headlight, I was petrified of finding some black spider crawling towards me and I’m pretty sure I am more scared of it that it is of me! I conquered the ladder which was actually no problem and apart from the odd cobweb down below (I wasn’t going to stand and look for spiders!) I couldn’t see any other lurking surprises.
Straight after the ladder, when you have gone down, you are standing on a “sump and sump grill” with the obvious use for this being a place for the people to dispose of liquid waste.
^There is small room opposite which would have been the toilet. Most of the doors opened inwards due to space which is what the main room one did.
Apart from the odd burnt bit on the table things were in a reasonable condition considering the post wasn’t locked up.
The ‘book shelf’ bit at the back would have been used for holding jerry cans which would have been full of water. The metal that remains today would have acted as hooks.
The image above shows a cupboard and a fir blanket dispenser. Posts were equipped with a large cupboard to store items such as medical kits and the stain removing Glitto! The fire blanket holder would have held asbestos fire blankets which were kept in posts in case of fire.
A video will be coming to BTP TV soon on the post and also the WW1 aerodrome however for the meantime our photos can be found here and why not visit/sign up to our forum as we want to get it used a lot more!