History of the wartime bunker on Nare Head at Carne and Pendower
Head out to the windswept Nare Head headland, to discover an old military bunker. A Royal Observer Corps (ROC) post was built here at the start of the Second World War to track aircraft before it became an underground bunker observing nuclear activity during the Cold War. Today it’s an historical landmark open to visit certain days throughout the year.
Spotting aircraft in the Second World War
In January 1940, just months after the Second World War began, the first reporting post was built above ground on the quiet Cornish headland near the village of Veryan. As a ROC post, it was used as a point to spot, identify and track aircraft flying overhead.
Teams in place 24 hours a day
Nare Head was, and is, special to many locals and some protested the ROC post when it was first built. Despite this, a small team manned their post 24 hours a day and did important work during the Second World War.
The Starfish bunker
Very close to the unobtrusive hatch of the ROC bunker is the unusually-named Starfish bunker, built as a decoy to lure second world war bombers away from nearby Falmouth docks.
Monitoring the nuclear threat
The corps was stood down briefly when the war ended, but just two years later it was reformed to monitor the shores for any possible low-level intruders from Russia. Then, with the Cold War at its peak, the operations were moved underground as the post was given a new job of detecting and reporting nuclear attacks.
One metre below ground
The post was opened to observe nuclear bursts and monitor radioactive fallout in 1964. It’s one metre below ground, just five metres by three metres in size and could protect its occupants from radiation by a factor of 1,000. The post operated into the 1980s and ran regular exercises and training meetings.
Visiting the bunker today
The bunker is no longer in use, but there are opportunities to look around it a few times a year, when local expert Lawrence Holmes and the team open it up. Lawrence even gives talks on his experience in the ROC and what it would have been like to work in the bunker.