The Mystery of the Octagon

The other day I posted photographs of a run I’d been on. One of the shots included the ruin of a wartime observation post. From what locals had told me, I assumed it had been used in WWII to spot approaching bombers.

Blogger The Benevolent Vegan was intrigued, and asked if I could take more photographs of the structure. I’m pleased she did, because when I went to take a closer look the other day I discovered a lot more about it.

It’s a pretty decrepit, two-storey structure, built of brick and concrete. Presumably there was once a ladder on the outside leading to the upper floor.


Oddly, there’s an octagonal hole in the concrete roof:


After a little online research, I discovered references to “type 14” radar installations being fitted into such octagonal holes. “Type 14” radar was invented in 1944, so if this was some sort of observation post built in WWII it would have been built quite near the end of the war.

A few yards from the ruin, a raised mound attracted my attention. I think I’d noticed this before, but assumed it was something to do with water or sewage. This time I paid it closer attention and discovered a concrete hatch…


OK, so the words “curiosity”, “cat” and “killed” occur to me now, in no particular order, but I couldn’t resist…


A doorway at the foot of the ladder opened into an oblong room. There’s about a foot of water in it these days. Fortunately, I was wearing my wellingtons. It was pitch dark and I had no torch with me but the camera has a flash…


By this time, I was beginning to question the WWII theory. I’m no expert but the fact that this structure was built in this way in this location made me think it was probably intended to withstand a nuclear rather than a conventional explosion. It seems far more likely that, in its present form,  it’s all that’s left of a Cold War radar station, probably designed to provide early warning of any nuclear attack on an air base that lies about 12 miles away. Improvements in radar in the 50s meant it probably fell into disuse soon after it was built. What’s left stands as a reminder that, whatever Bert the Turtle might say, in a nuclear war it pays to be fifteen feet underground in a concrete box – even if you live in the depths of the countryside.




10 thoughts on “The Mystery of the Octagon

  1. You really climbed down into that hole?
    I am curious, but not that curious.

    I prefer ‘When The Wind Blows’, but we had to make do with a door taken off its hinges or duck under the table. Happy days.

    1. I did. It was like there was a magnet at the foot of the ladder. I, too, was reminded of When the Wind Blows and Protect and Survive. When you see one of these concrete constructions you realise how cynical the advice given out to the public was.

  2. That’s very interesting. I suppose if there is ever a nuclear attack you can grab your wellies and head off there. 🙂 I would imagine that there is some official record of it. How intriguing.

    1. I could, but I’d have to stand around in the dark for a couple of weeks. And, unfortunately, the hatch cover is missing.

      I’ve not found any mention of it anywhere. I thought there must be other anoraks like me out there on the net who’ve documented it but I’ve had a look and it seems not.

  3. you have indeed found a 1950’s observation/radar station. The ladder is to a ROC post (royal observer corps) they are all over the country and existed as civilan manned message centres that were linked up all over the uk. They we disbanded in the mid 90’s and sealed vandalised or saved. Many have been for sale and brought over the years.
    I have been in a few ROC posts myself here a link

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