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Surveillance and Communication

Observation Sites

Observation Headquarters

Royal Observer Corps Headquarters, York

Royal Observer Corps Headquarters, York

Full name of site:

Royal Observer Corps Headquarters, York


Monument Cl, Holgate, York YO24 4HT, Storbritannien

Operational period:




Primary user:

Royal Observer Corps


The Royal Observer Corps Headquarters at York was one of 31 built in the United Kingdom in the early 1960s. It’s a semi-sunken bunker, others were entirely on the surface, while some reused earlier structures.

The Royal Observer Corps had its origins in the First World War as part of the country’s air defences when its role was the visual reporting of airship and aircraft movements. This function continued in the Second World War and into the Cold War, and in the 1950s inspired a similar system in the Netherlands. In the late 1950s, in the event of a nuclear attack the Royal Observer Corps acquired a new task of reporting the locations of nuclear detonations and the spread of resulting fallout.

At its height the system comprised around 1500 small monitoring posts reporting to 31 group headquarters.

Nuclear fallout knows no boundaries and systems were in place to exchange information with analogous organisations in France, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands.


English Heritage Trust

Valuation of authenticity and integrity:

The site is very well preserved and unusually retains most of its equipment from when it was stood down in the early 1990s.

Status and access:

The site is managed by the English Heritage Trust and there is full public access with interpretation and displays.

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