back to article Reg man bested in geek-to-geek combat - in World War 3 nerve centre

During the Cold War, Neatishead in Norfolk was theoretically the worst place in the UK to live: the nearby RAF base would be target Number One if the Russians nuked us. This was brought home to me in a guided tour by a retired officer, whose old job was to run Blighty’s air defence. Standing in the 1980s-era Cold War control …


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  2. Rampant Spaniel

    Excellent! Will have to visit next time I'm home. Love these type of places.

    Shame about the bunker, theres some unexplicable coolness with underground lairs, sorry bunkers :-)

  3. nichomach

    It's all very well giving the location

    ...but what's the altitude?

    Seriously, though, good writeup and it sounds excellent.

    1. Vulch

      Re: It's all very well giving the location

      Given the location you're unlikely to be far out if you assume sea-level and go for an airburst at a couple of hundred feet.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > RAF Neatishead's Cold War-era tracking station

    Shall we play a game?

    1. Rampant Spaniel

      How about global thermonuclear war :-)

      Perhaps the film just got released in NK? It would explain angry smurfs latest hissy fit.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Anyone seen At Dawn's Early Light?

        It's not the best, but itr's not too shabby.

        As a Cold War Brat, these movies always cause me major distress. Even today, these nukes are ready to fly though the talk about busting cities for fun and giggles has abated a bit. For now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          > As a Cold War Brat, these movies always cause me major distress.

          I was always pretty laid back about it. I grew up within 5 miles of three or four military installations, most of which would have been on the target list.

          I wouldn't even have heard the four minute warning; there would have been a bright light and an Anonymous Coward shaped outline on the wall. It seemed a little pointless worrying about it...

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It was interesting

    visiting the Russian side and seeing the missiles which were pointed at us. It got a bit scary at one point as a load of soldiers turned up and started climbing on the missiles as if they were going to work on them. Then I realised that they were just enthusiastic visitors too.

  6. SuperHoopMango
    Thumb Up

    Bring back Memories

    Good god... I never expected to come on El Reg and see my old Ops Room.

    That brings back so many memories from the late-80's. Standing behind the perspex with a chinograph pen in my hand, learning to write backwards. If you look closely enough you can see Phantoms from Wattisham marked up as C44+8. IIRC that's 4 IR and 4 radar guided missiles, plus plenty of cannon ammo!

    Also, in the bottom left, you can see the details of the QRA flight from RAF Leuchars, with an RAF Marham tanker, all ready to go!

    I will deffo be taking my son to see a bit of personal history on the 2nd weekend in April!

  7. SuperHoopMango

    Should i, perhaps, point out that the bunker did indeed open up as the Ops Room in the early 90's? I can remember going down there to see all the new tech being installed in about 1990...and also having exercises that required us to be in the it wasn't completely devastated!

    I also remember a small hill in the middle of the camp that I and 3 mates had to dig out to fill sandbags when the IRA were known to be watching the camp from a farm building up a local track. Standing on that hill and watching a Jaguar fly past, BELOW my eyeline, remains an amazing memory!

    I may be back during the day to add to these memories!

  8. MJI Silver badge

    Where it is?

    Some of us geeks still use paper maps, can we have grid references in future as well please?

    BTW looks like a great place to visit.

    1. SuperHoopMango

      Re: Where it is?

      Depends where you're coming from!

      I can still give directions from RAF Coltishall, Norwich, Gt Yarmouth, Northants....!!!

      I knew the roads around there like the back of my hand! Coming from Wroxham, as you get to Horning, turn left at the staggered crossroads, follow road down, then turn right towards camp. Follow road around outskirts of base, until you get to the main gate!

      From Yarmouth, it'll be a right turn at the crossroads!!

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Where it is?

        The grid ref will do, I have a huge pile of OS maps at home.

        Years ago used to phone a friend and just meet at SO725159 at 8 for an example.

        Much easier than giving directions down lanes.

    2. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Where it is?

      Do you leave Naaridge on the Wroxham rud. When yew git ter Hov'ton, go roight ter Hornin.

      Then in Hornin, arrsk someone.

      In all seriousness, I live about 10 miles away and not been yet. I really should get out more.

      1. SecretBatcave

        Re: Where it is?

        Top tip for correct pronunciations is to avoid the west country oooaarrrrrrr

        for example westcountry norwich == narrrRrrrisch

        norfolk == Nar ich with a short sharp r

        another example is roof. Westcountry == RooooOoooooooof

        norfolk its closer to ruff as in dog noise. like woofter and change the w for a short sharp r (and no ter)

        Also I've been here, as a kid. whilst it was still active (they'd moved out of the control room about 5 years earlier) The amount of power it used was/is mind boggling something like 10Megawatts

        1. graeme leggett Silver badge

          Re: Where it is?

          regarding the accent...

          BBC Radio 4 Extra has the moderately comic "Alison and Maud" in its schedule (should be available on iPlayer) Set in/near Norwich one of the supporting characters - Mr Mullet - has a fairly authentic accent. Not as impressive as Samuel in NIck Warburton's "On Mardle Fen" series though. Also the work of the Nimmo Twins.

          One last thing - the homonyms. My wife criticizes the way I pronounce "bear" "beer" and "bier" exactly the same. Best thing to do though is to get yourself down to Neatishead and afterwards go for a listen to the locals. But remember to leave before night falls!

  9. SharkNose

    Neathishead was certainly never target number one or the most secret place in Britain during the cold war! Even in terms of the RAF I'm sure Strike Command / Air Ops HQ at High Wycombe would have been a higher priority, not to mention the Burlington/Turnstile/Chanticleer bunker in Corsham...

    1. SuperHoopMango
      Happy would never have been target number 1... but probably in the top 20!

      Anyway, all this talk of bunkers reminds me of the signs for "Secret Nuclear Bunker" that are in Brentwood, Essex, for the secret nuclear bunker in Kelvedon Hatch!!!

      That's always made me smile when I drove past there!

    2. Laurie


      We told you not to mention the Burlington/Turnstile/Chanticleer bunker in Corsham!

    3. Chris Miller

      RAF Air Command is <2 miles from my house. The standing joke is that we'll be the first members of the public to find out about WW3, for about 10 seconds.

    4. VeganVegan

      In comparison, pity the poor Germans come WW3

      The "joke":

      Q: How far apart are German towns?

      A: 1 kiloton.

    5. phuzz Silver badge

      I grew up just over the hill from Cheltenham (and therefore GCHQ), so probably just out of insta-death range, but very much within slow-painful-death-due-to-radiation range.

      What a cheery thought :(

  10. ukgnome
    Thumb Up

    Groupon Deal

    Why not bag yourself this Groupon deal and take a look.

    Finally a groupon that isn't totally useless.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you want a serious souvenir, the rest of RAF Neatishead up for sale at £2.5 million, including the bunker i think.

  12. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    Undelete photo

    You *do* know that it should be relatively trivial to undelete that photo, provided you haven't already overwritten it?

  13. Annihilator
    Thumb Up


    Noted to go make a trip. The phrase "somewhere less expendable" did remind me of Springfield's designation of NWB, or "Nuclear Whipping Boy", meaning that in the event of a nuclear war all friendly nations will first calibrate their missiles by bombing Springfield.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For those that don't want to travel that far...

    ...but still want a good (cheap) day out, seeing cold war Tech, mainly planes, RAF Cosford nr Telford is a great day out. My 4yr old daughter loves it!

    Oh and it's costs a few quid for the parking, that's it.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Radar Operators?

    Might they be inflatable?

    Are they available from the gift shop?

  16. jubtastic1
    Thumb Up

    More of this sort of thing

    Sounds great, reminds me of Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey, which has great rocket and explosives exhibits and knowledgable volunteers, some of whom used to work there as rocket scientists, good family day out, check the weather first though as rainy days don't get all the pyrotechnics.

  17. Mountearl
    Big Brother

    Neatishead - strangely, bigger than Buchan

    I remember going to Neatishead on a jolly (ahem, I mean... educational visit) from West Drayton in 1989 as a young and enthusiastic LAC scopie. It was a large, busy Ops room then. After posting to Buchan, I was told that it was "only the CRC for the south, nothing much goes on there, Buchan is where the action is".

    After interminable Tankex ops over the North Sea, staring at one tanker feeding another for hours on end, I began to doubt the veracity of the WO Ops. And the story about the underground ops room not being complete is a tall tale. It was built for the latest kit that was due to be introduced sometime around 1979. It was only 11 years late - which is bang on time in Cold War RAF terms.

    I too remember heady Cold War days, when all that stood between us and eating cold beetroot soup were a Type 80 at Peterhead that could give you a suntan in 60 seconds, some leaky Phantoms, and 19 year old scopies helping 22 year old FCs decide right from left. Happy days!

  18. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Found on Google Maps, finally

    Aaah, motherland!

    There is a swastika-shaped building, too. Still pretending there wasn't collection of germanic know-how after the Mad Confrontation of The Two Collectivist Powers was over?

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