Barnton Quarry Restoration Project

Barnton Quarry Restoration Project Facebook landing site for the Barnton Quarry Restoration Project. Read all about our project at: htt Any help is appreciated!
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RAF Barnton Quarry, 4 miles from the city centre of Edinburgh and buried deep under Corstorphine Hill, has a long association with the RAF which dates back to the formation of the 3603 Fighter Control Unit of the famous 603 (City of Edinburgh) Squadron during WWII. After WWII, the UK government identified Russia as a key threat to national security and the deep bunker at Barnton Quarry was built i

n 1952 as the response to that threat. Operating as the Sector Operations Centre for co-ordinating RAF fighter response to UK airspace intrusion, the staff at RAF Barnton Quarry protected Scotland from attack by Russian long-range nuclear bombers up until around 1960. The theme was very much command and control, with radar sites stretching from the very north of Scotland right down to Northumberland (including our other bunker/museum, Scotland’s Secret Bunker, RAF Troywood near Anstruther) reporting radar contacts to Barnton Quarry via dedicated telephone lines, where the information was triangulated and subsequently plotted on huge map tables for RAF fighter commanders to view and make decisions regarding the fighter response. The scale of the RAF operation here was astonishing; the central operations well is vast and exists over three floors deep underground. The bunker was specifically designed to withstand Russian attack. It's buried 100ft underground with walls of 10ft thick reinforced concrete, tank-metal blast doors, generators and a complex air conditioning and filtration system. The site is of great historical importance as it is the only surviving example of this type of bunker in the UK which retains the original RAF three-level operations room. Sadly, the bunker has been neglected for many years and has suffered theft and fire damage. We plan to restore it exactly as it was under the RAF in 1952 and open the site as a museum so that visitors can experience it first-hand for themselves. Our vision is to lever interactive technology to create rotating exhibits, all relevant to the teaching of RAF and Cold War history. The space we have on the site is huge, hence we plan reserve a chunk of our display space to invite guest exhibitors to display with the objective of providing new and interesting display topics for returning visitors. Addiitonally, we’re planning to create dedicated permanent displays to preserve the history of 603 squadron in the bunker which was home to the FCU! We've been working hard for the past two years to recover the site. The project is going well; the next phase is to take the buildings back to the shell and restore from scratch. We're making great progress, but there is still a long way to go! Volunteers are the lifeblood of what we're doing and we're very keen for volunteers to get involved in the project. Contact [email protected] for further details.

12/08/2023
09/09/2022

Posted • September 17th and 18th, the Decontamination Suite will be open for guided tours as part of Heritage Open Days. We are delighted to be taking part in England’s largest festival of history and culture! See our website for more details

09/09/2022
06/08/2022

Matthew examines the routes to a safer nuclear future.

14/02/2022

At long last we have been granted planning permission

In 1991, exactly 30 years ago today, the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was stood down. The ROC was established after WWI an...
30/09/2021

In 1991, exactly 30 years ago today, the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was stood down. The ROC was established after WWI and performed a key role in the detection and identification of enemy raids during WWII.

During the Cold War, the Corps was tasked with detecting, reporting and tracking nuclear attacks. An organisation of dedicated, and in many cases voluntary, observers distributed in over 1,500 subterranean monitoring posts, group headquarters and sector control bunkers across the country, constantly ready to react and perform their duties, their motto “Forewarned is Forearmed”.

Barnton Quarry supported and hosted many of the operations of the ROC throughout its long history. The UKWMO (UK Warning and Monitoring Organisation) Caledonian Sector Control was based at Barnton Quarry until 1964. The function was moved to School Hill Chain Home station in Aberdeenshire in 1964 before being moved again in 1976 to its final location at Craigiebarns House in Dundee.

Team members from Barnton Quarry are joining the team at Craigiebarns this evening to respectfully nod our head in acknowledgement of the service the men and women of the ROC gave for the protection of our country.

Fab illustration of an ROC monitoring post by Bob Marshall.

We were delighted to support the Covid-safe return of action in Scottish film this week with the loan of our WWII RAF op...
11/06/2021

We were delighted to support the Covid-safe return of action in Scottish film this week with the loan of our WWII RAF operations room as a location for the forthcoming feature film Dick Dynamite 1944.

We pondered what the RAF would have thought about the presence of German soldiers in their ops room back in 1944...

PRESS RELEASE: The former RAF Caledonian Sector Operations Centre at Barnton Quarry was today awarded Category-A listed ...
09/06/2021

PRESS RELEASE: The former RAF Caledonian Sector Operations Centre at Barnton Quarry was today awarded Category-A listed building status by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

Category-A listed building status is awarded to buildings of special architectural or historical interest which are outstanding examples of a particular period, style or building type.

Recognising both the national historical and architectural importance of the site, the listing elevates the former military command centre at Barnton Quarry alongside other rare and notable historic buildings such as Edinburgh Castle and the Forth Bridge.

HES note in their listing report: “The R4 ROTOR bunker is an extremely rare example of an early Cold War ROTOR radar headquarters and is the only example where the original layout is visible.

The buildings are a well-preserved physical reminder of two of the major global periods of conflict that helped define the 20th century (being World War II and the Cold War), and in both cases many of their contemporary related structures have been either heavily altered or demolished, further adding to the significance of these surviving examples.”

Philp Robertson, Deputy Head of Designations at Historic Environment Scotland (HES) said:

“We are delighted to list the Cold War Rotor Radar System bunker in Barnton. This follows the nomination of the site by The Barnton Quarry Restoration Project, a community group involved in restoring the building as a unique piece of cold war history in the heart of Edinburgh.

Working with community groups and listening to their ambitions to protect and engage with their local historic environment is a priority for HES. Listing at Category A recognises the special architectural and historic interest of this building. As one of only four purpose-built radar system headquarters of its type in the UK, the Barnton building is a very rare survival from the Cold War.”

Listing doesn’t mean that a structure has to stay the same forever or remain in its original use. Rather, it means that there is a special interest that should be taken into account in the planning process.”

Grant More, Barnton Quarry Restoration Team said:

“We are delighted to receive this award from Historic Environment Scotland, a fantastic acknowledgement of how unique the Barnton Quarry site is and a reminder of its national importance in terms of historical and architectural interest.

Our team of dedicated volunteers has been working hard on behalf of the public for the past ten years to painstakingly restore the buildings. We’re deeply passionate about safeguarding our Cold War history and this award will help us to accelerate the realisation of our vision of opening the site at Barnton Quarry as a museum and education centre.”

Further details of the listing are available here: http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/LB52578

Former RAF Turnhouse Sector Operations Command centre and R4 ROTOR Sector Operations Centre, excluding ancillary building to south, Barnton Quarry, Edinburgh (LB52578)

We recently got around to rehanging the rear blast doors. We haven't cleaned 30 years of neglect filth off them yet, but...
04/05/2021

We recently got around to rehanging the rear blast doors. We haven't cleaned 30 years of neglect filth off them yet, but we're happy to report that they now work perfectly. Naturally, being the bunker restoration types that we are, we greased all the spring-loaded latches and they make a very satisfying click when the latches lock into the keeps.

It was Air Ministry policy to provide standby power generation at a location divorced from ROTOR sites. An R4 site in fu...
23/02/2021

It was Air Ministry policy to provide standby power generation at a location divorced from ROTOR sites. An R4 site in full operation consumed a lot of power, hence a large 500kVA generator set, powered by a marine diesel engine was typically plonked down somewhere in the vicinity of the bunker.

Construction minutes from 1951 show that a standby set site was selected for Barnton Quarry, but the location of the standby set has remained a mystery to us. For years we’ve known that there was a standby power cable which headed out from the R4 down to the Queensferry Road, but where did it go and where was the standby set house?

Like the ROTOR bunkers, the standby set houses were built to a standard design which was intended to appear like a church to provide some level of disguise from hostile actions. Find a building like that, find the standby set house.

Our volunteers and our friends in the wider ROTOR preservation community have pored over thousands of images of the local Barnton estate. As it turns out, there was a building identical to the standard design nearly a mile from Barnton Quarry.

We finally got confirmation today that the site we suspected was indeed the standby set house. It was located on the corner of Barnton Grove and what is now Barnton Park Avenue. Sadly, it was demolished some time ago to make way for a block of flats.

Does anyone local remember the building? We’d love to see photographs! Let us know!

Thanks to our friends David, Mark and Bob for their efforts in research.

We're quite chuffed with our restoration of the original enamel light fittings in the air handling room. We spent quite ...
24/12/2020

We're quite chuffed with our restoration of the original enamel light fittings in the air handling room. We spent quite a bit of time pulling knackered cables out of the original conduit and pulling new ones in. If you look closely you'll see our new wi-fi access points, of course wired in the same conduit used in 1951...

We're running a bit slower than we'd like to keep our team safe from Covid, but we're still as passionate as ever about preserving and opening this historic building!

Merry Christmas from the restoration team at Barnton Quarry.

Using radar information to monitor the North Sea approaches to the UK and coordinate fighter response, the function prov...
21/08/2020

Using radar information to monitor the North Sea approaches to the UK and coordinate fighter response, the function provided at RAF Barnton Quarry was critical to national security.

RAF police secured the site and carried out 24h watch until the middle of the 1950s. Teams of RAF policemen and Alsatian guard dogs were based in the guard room at the top of the access tunnel to the R4 bunker. Visitors to the Sector Operations Centre would be held in a caged area while ID was checked, before being admitted to the bunker.

These photos were taken in 1984 when the site was being used by Lothian Regional Council as the local Emergency Planning Centre.

The ROTOR R6 bunker museum at Hack Green in Cheshire re-opens to the public! The R6 was the RAF Ground Controlled Interc...
05/07/2020

The ROTOR R6 bunker museum at Hack Green in Cheshire re-opens to the public!

The R6 was the RAF Ground Controlled Intercept bunker design for the west coast - virtually identical in layout to the R3 GCI bunkers (Scotland’s Secret Bunker et al.) on the east coast.

The primary differentiation is that the R6 bunkers are semi-sunken while the R3 bunkers are fully subterranean, reflecting the Air Ministry response to the elevated threat from Soviet attack on the east coast.

Our sister bunker in Fife is re-opening again on 15th July! An opportunity to experience a different type of lockdown...
29/06/2020

Our sister bunker in Fife is re-opening again on 15th July! An opportunity to experience a different type of lockdown...

Looking forward to reopening again!

Hello and welcome to all our new followers and thanks for all the messages of support on the back of our recent planning...
04/06/2020

Hello and welcome to all our new followers and thanks for all the messages of support on the back of our recent planning application for the museum!

Here's a photo from 1952, taken during the construction of the R4 bunker at Barnton Quarry. Taken covertly by one of the RAF Police dog handlers as cameras were strictly prohibited due to the sensitive nature of RAF operations!

Hello and welcome to all our new followers and thanks for all the messages of support on the back of our recent planning...
04/06/2020

Hello and welcome to all our new followers and thanks for all the messages of support on the back of our recent planning application for the museum!

Here's a photo from 1952, taken during the construction of the R4 bunker at Barnton Quarry. Taken covertly by one of the RAF Police dog handlers as cameras were strictly prohibited due to the sensitive nature of RAF operations.

Subterranea magazine from Sub Brit covering our big plans!
26/05/2020

Subterranea magazine from Sub Brit covering our big plans!

There were four R4 bunkers built as Sector Operations Centres for the RAF during the early 1950s - Barnton Quarry, Shipt...
06/05/2020

There were four R4 bunkers built as Sector Operations Centres for the RAF during the early 1950s - Barnton Quarry, Shipton, Kelvedon Hatch and Bawburgh.

In parallel, a fifth R4 structure was quietly built at the Radar Research Establishment at Malvern in Worcester to facilitate research and development of radar systems and processes.

The fifth R4 structure was known as 'H building' and it was built on the surface to provide an operations room with exactly the same dimensions as the operations rooms of the four R4 bunkers.

The site was used to develop the systems and processes for the UK radar defence programmes: ROTOR, Plan Ahead and Linesman/Mediator.

Furthermore, the work carried out by the brilliant engineering minds on the site delivered pioneering systems for radar, including systems for plot projection, data management/storage and communications.

The development which took place here secured the UK skies from then until now and led to the pioneering development of radar systems for both civilian and military purposes. Indeed, many of the key elements of the systems which enable worldwide air traffic control today were conceived in this building.

Amazingly, the world’s first touch screen was developed by RRE teams in H building as early as 1966 with a view to using it for radar control purposes - such was the tremendous vision and capability of the systems engineers which worked there.

Which is why it is incredibly sad that the whole RRE site (including H building) is currently being torn down to allow a housing estate to be built. Our friends have worked tirelessly to have key elements of the site protected, but our recent engineering heritage is unfortunately undervalued by many.

Aerial photography by Martyn Jones. A respectful nod to our friends at the Malvern Radar and Technology History Society, without whose work to preserve our recent engineering heritage, this historical site would be but a memory.

17/04/2020

Our friends at the former ROTOR R6 bunker at Hack Green demonstrating their fabulous generators!

Big day for Barnton Quarry today! We've submitted our formal planning application to establish permission to open the si...
11/03/2020

Big day for Barnton Quarry today! We've submitted our formal planning application to establish permission to open the site to the public as a museum and STEM education centre.

The ultimate success of the project, underpinned by many thousands of hours of effort by our volunteers to restore and preserve this unique site of national historical importance, hinges on the success of this one planning application.

Our fingers are crossed and we hope that the planning decision makers share our exciting vision! Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

The bunker is in Barnton Quarry and has undergone years of painstaking restoration.

Looking for something to do tomorrow when it’s windy and rainy? Why not visit our fabulous sister ROTOR bunker in Fife? ...
08/02/2020

Looking for something to do tomorrow when it’s windy and rainy? Why not visit our fabulous sister ROTOR bunker in Fife? Here’s some snapshots of what to expect! And remember, your door entry pennies help us restore Barnton Quarry!

Our sister bunker is open again for the season! Remember, it financially supports the work we carry out preserving Barnt...
02/02/2020

Our sister bunker is open again for the season! Remember, it financially supports the work we carry out preserving Barnton Quarry so do visit if you can!

Ssshhh!! Attention!!! Did you know that Scotland’s Secret Bunker is now open to the public for 2020 ! It’s a secret but we are happy you tell your friends and family and you might even meet the man in the photo. You just never know!




Www.secretbunker.co.uk

Merry Xmas from the restoration team at Barnton Quarry! Here's a snowy scene at the bunker from 1989.
24/12/2019

Merry Xmas from the restoration team at Barnton Quarry! Here's a snowy scene at the bunker from 1989.

A few shots of the very few racks of GPO apparatus that remain today at BQ. We will have a very exciting announcement to...
13/11/2019

A few shots of the very few racks of GPO apparatus that remain today at BQ. We will have a very exciting announcement to make in the coming weeks as we turn the team's attention to the first phase of the restoration of this room.

Great news from Gavin and the team up at Craigiebarns. Love working with you!
05/10/2019

Great news from Gavin and the team up at Craigiebarns. Love working with you!

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35 Clermiston Road North
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EH47BN

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