Structures you will pass on your walk

Many of the buildings on Orford Ness are open to visitors. Some of these are designated as Listed Buildings or Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Do go in and learn more about this special place, its history and the people who worked here. Use them to gain an elevated position for a different perspective of the Ness.

Information Building

Information Building Orford Ness
Orford Ness Information Building
Information Building Orford Ness

This former site headquarters, briefly the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment administrative base, then became the security office and a telephone exchange. Now you can look inside and find displays about the island and a real (decommissioned) atomic bomb. Don't forget to write a comment in the visitor book.

" A wonderful exhibition! Many thanks for a great day."
- Orford Ness visitor 2015

Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) Building

NAAFI Building Orford Ness
NAAFI Building Orford Ness
NAAFI Building Orford Ness

This building was initially part of an Officer's Mess. In the 1930s it became the receiver building for Radio Direction Finding (RDF) experiments, later called Radar. During the Second World War it was used as a centre for social activities and in the mid 50s became the site NAAFI.
Part of it now houses interactive and static displays about the habitats, wildlife, nature conservation management and research work carried out here.

Bomb Ballistics

Bomb Ballistics on Orford Ness
Bomb Ballistics on Orford Ness
Bomb Ballistics on Orford Ness

Built in 1933 to house advanced technical equipment, this was the centre of operations for the bombing range. In use for over 40 years you can learn how the bombing range operated and evolved at the forefront of ballistics testing. Climb to the roof for a panoramic view across the shingle.

Black Beacon

Climb The Black Beacon for views across the sea and shingle
The Black Beacon on Orford Ness
Climb The Black Beacon for views across the sea and shingle

Built to house an experimental radio apparatus, this enigmatic building housed a secret - a marine navigation beacon to the outside world but in reality a homing beacon for military aircraft. This area was later the site of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment technical HQ and telemetry station, which have been demolished. Climb to the upper level viewing station for views across the sea and shingle.

Power House

The Power House standing beside the Black Beacon supplied the enormous amount of power needed.
Power House and Black Beacon on Orford Ness
The Power House standing beside the Black Beacon supplied the enormous amount of power needed.

Standing next to the Black Beacon, yet built four years after it, the generator inside supplied power to the 'marine navigation beacon'. The beacon had been powered from elsewhere on site - why did it need a generator now? A power cable also ran out to the newly built Bomb Ballistics building some distance away. Look inside to learn about the spit's natural history.

Control Room and Hard Target

Hard Target on Orford Ness
Hard Target on Orford Ness
Hard Target on Orford Ness

Built in 1956, the Control Room functioned initially as the control centre for Laboratory 1, before becoming control room for the Hard Target Impact facility. The room now contains displays about AWRE.

Laboratory 1

Laboratory 1 on Orford Ness.
Laboratory 1 on Orford Ness. The first atomic weapon test cell
Laboratory 1 on Orford Ness.

Again completed in 1956, this was the first of six atomic weapons test cells constructed by AWRE from Aldermaston. It was used for for both mechanical and vibration testing and for drop tests.

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Did you work in any of these buildings 

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Wild Orford Ness

Discover the wild Ness 

The Ness is an internationally important site for nature conservation. Breeding and migrating birds, specialised plants and other wildlife flourish in a rich mosaic of coastal habitats.