The ROC’s Changing Role


The ROC's Changing Role

The ever growing tensions between the West and the East; culminating in the so called "Cold War" led to the greater risk of nuclear war. As a result, the need for effective warning and monitoring required changes to the role of the ROC resulting in the announcement in the House of Commons on the 15th June 1955:-

"... Steps are being taken for the ROC to give warning of and to measure radioactivity in the event of air attacks in a future war"

The ROC was given the task of reporting any nuclear bomb bursts and monitoring the resultant radioactive fall-out. The first significant exercise involving the ROC in handling nuclear data was in 1956.


Skelmorlie Secret Bunker
Skelmorlie Secret Bunker

United Kingdom Warning & Monitoring Organisation (UKWMO)

In 1957 the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation (UKWMO) was set up under Home Office control and funding, with five main functions.
Warning the public of any air attack - conventional or nuclear.
Providing confirmation of nuclear strike.
Warning the public of the approach of radioactive fallout.
Provision of a post-attack meteorological service for fallout prediction.
Supplying the civilian and military authorities in the United Kingdom and neighbouring countries in NATO with details of nuclear bursts and with a scientific assessment of the path and intensity of fallout.

Fallout would be monitored as and where it occurred, with its actual location and radiation level mapped using actual data obtained from radiation detection meters at ROC posts. Such information when combined with Metrological data would provide accurate weather forecasts predicting the distribution and strength of nuclear fallout.

The first operational protected post was developed at Farnham, Surrey in 1956 this was expanded into a construction programme to build a network if posts across the entire United Kingdom including off-shore Islands.

In total by 1963, approximately 1500 underground posts had been constructed and which were designed to provide satisfactory blast protection and be able to be used self-sufficiently for a number of weeks if an attack on the UK had occurred.