SENSITIVE MILITARY INSTALLATION
This report was prepared for SPUR
by Daniele Mandelli (SPUR London Office)
Location & History:
Located south-east of Bath, RAF Rudloe Manor is in fact just one
of several sensitive military installations situated on the Spring
Quarries, Copernacre Quarry, the villages of Hawthorn and Hudswell,
and the town of Corsham.
In World War II the Ministry of Aircraft Production built the
Beaverbrook underground aircraft factory here for Bristol Aeroplane
and other companies. The vast caverns had some 2,250,000ftsq of
space, divided into many smaller chambers. Other local quarries
were expanded on and linked together, forming a huge network of
tunnels and bunkers, parts of which were used for army storage purposes.
An RAF Fighter group HQ (RAF Box), and a communications switching
centre were also set up, making the area an important military nerve
centre even then.
In the 1950s, in response to the Soviet Union's explosion of the
atom bomb and subsequent development of the more powerful Hydrogen
bomb, the British government began a frantic programme of hardening
and building underground facilities to try to ensure the survivability
of the government and establishment. The Corsham area, with its
already extensive underground areas, was chosen as the wartime seat
of power in case of nuclear war. Utilising the London to Bath railway
which run through the base, through the Box tunnel, the government
could evacuate quickly from Whitehall to the Hawthorn Central Government
War Headquarters. An underground siding was constructed so trains
could come straight into the underground base.
All of this was kept secret. News of construction of underground
bunkers throughout the country, known as RSGs (Regional Seats of
Governments) for local government officials as well as tunnels and
bunkers under London had leaked out, causing a major row and acute
embarrassment for the government, with MI5 called in to track down
the culprits, who were known as the "Spies for Peace" group. No
money was being put forward for large scale construction of deep
public shelters, confirmed Harold Macmillan in a speech to the Commons.
In fact, the government was secretly building one very large deep
shelter for itself. Chapman Pincher, a defence correspondent who
claimed to have been taken into the governments confidence, was
calling for the Spies for Peace group to face the gallows, but he
"There is a bomb proof underground citadel for the central government,
including quarters for the Royal Family, somewhere in the west."
His informant's vague hint of "the west" was a reference to the
Hawthorn Central Government war headquarters, to which the cabinet,
central government and defence staffs would retreat early in a crisis,
leaving London to its fate as the bombs fell.
Present Status, Facilities & Units:
The full extent of the Corsham underground workings today is unknown,
but it is fact that they exist, and stretch for several miles. All
this information is available through government records from the
1950s and 60s. Much has fallen into disuse, or has been sold, such
as tunnels and bunkers at Monkton Farleigh, miles to the south.
Today there are numerous establishments and units. At Hawthorn
is RAF Rudloe Manor, which itself is split into separate locations.
The first site, the main one, houses RAF Signals units which run
what is called CDCN. This stands for Command of the Defence Communications
Network, which is the MoD organisation which co-ordinates military
communications worldwide. This is a tri-service set up, and its
nerve centre is beneath a field at Hawthorn, in a separate location
to the main Rudloe base. The importance of this facility can easily
The second site is further up the road from Hawthorn. This is
the Manor site, and houses the Headquarters of the RAF Provost and
Security Services, which is the RAF organisation handling special
security needs, as well as the security service, MI5. It is this
location rumoured to house Britain's secret UFO research centre,
Back at the main Rudloe site, on both side of the road which runs
through the base, are entrances to the Central Government war headquarters
talked about above. Its exact extent is unknown, but it is rumoured
to have separate facilities for the Royal Family. Further rumours
talk of an even deeper "super bunker" beneath the government citadel,
but what goes on down there is unknown, even if it actually exists.
What the rumours mention are secret experiments and research, and
large stockpiles of food and other supplies, all stacked and ready.
According to various sources, the entire underground complex has
a nuclear generator to provide power. This is quite frightening
when one remembers that the town of Corsham sits on top of this
huge bunker, unaware of the nuclear danger beneath their feet. Going
back to military facilities in the area, there is RAF Colerne a
few miles north, and RN Copernacre and Basil Hill barracks nearby
to Rudloe Manor. All are believed to have connections to the underground
One of the most sinister military facilities is known as CCC.
Although it is not confirmed what CCC actually stands for, most
sources have it as Corsham Computer Centre. Rumours have it that
there is a super computer there linked to GCHQ and the NSA, but
again these are unconfirmed. CCC is different from the other facilities
in that it is well hidden away, there are no fences or warning signs,
one can walk right up to the bunker entrance. The rest of the base
has really high profile security, fences, signs, dogs, security
patrols. CCC too has security, but it's covert. To me the place
is so secret the powers that be have decided the best security is
not to advertise its presence in the first place.
Secret Rail Links:
A further tantalising rumour has the government citadel linked
to London by underground tube train, but this is unconfirmed. However,
there is partial evidence supporting this story. The previously
mentioned siding in the Box tunnel is now disused, but in the 1970s
the UK Land forces command at Salisbury were reported in a rail
enthusiasts magazine as advertising for underground trains at an
unspecified establishment. This army command would staff the main
UK war headquarters, and the only known site they would need underground
trains for would be Hawthorn. Since the total workings are several
miles in extent, a train service is a possibility.
Rumours abound over the years that Rudloe Manor has a secret role
in monitoring the UFO situation, but there is no real hard evidence
for this. In 1984 a UFO witness had phoned Whitehall to report a
sighting, but had been given another number in "the West Country",
which was Rudloe Manor. It is assumed that Rudloe Manor's Flying
Complaints Flight is being used as a cover for a "logger unit" (a
unit housed within another unit), where secret research into UFOs
is, or was, being conducted. Records released by the public records
office after the 30 year secrecy rule has elapsed have UFO incidents
being investigated by the Provost and Security Service, which are
based at Rudloe Manor. The MoD has consistently denied Rudloe Manor
is involved in UFO research, but the rumours remain. What is certain
is that the authorities are very touchy about something there, which
will be discussed next month.
The Field Trip:
On 15th May 1997, Graham Wilson (SPUR Head Office), Roger Mallett
(SPUR Wiltshire Office) and myself, made the journey to Rudloe Manor
to see the facilities for ourselves. I had already been once before,
but had only driven past a few times without stopping to have a
good look round. This time would be different, I'd expected trouble
and I was not disappointed!
We had come well prepared, with binoculars, cameras, and an ordnance
survey map. I'd also studied reports on Rudloe Manor in Matthew
Williams' Truth Seekers Review, and had spoken with him about the
trip on the phone, so I was pretty confident of my knowledge on
the base, what to look for and what could be expected.
Before heading for the main base proper we decided we wanted to
take a closer look at the railway tunnel, which was supposed to
have an extra line branching off to go into the underground base.
Looking at our map we found a quiet lane running next to the line,
which ran alongside in a cutting leading up to the tunnel itself.
Eventually we found the place and drove down the lane until we could
drive no further, a dead end. We had not expected this as it had
not been shown on our map. We decided this was as good a place as
any to leave the car, nice and quiet and out of the way, and quickly
discovered we could not have chosen a better place since the tunnel
was right next to us, while a bit further on to our front we could
see a perimeter fence, which turned out to be the rear of the Manor
base proper (HQ P&SS).
Back to the tunnel, and we scaled a few rusty fences and descended
some steps down onto the railway line, right next to the tunnel
entrance. Sure enough, there was another tunnel, which had been
boarded up and had clearly not been used for some time. Our opinions
on whether this was infact the disused entrance were divided. Graham
was adamant this was indeed the entrance, while Roger and myself
were not so sure. I'd read several articles on the base which stated
the old tunnel entrance was here, but it looked too small to me
to take a train, making me wonder if it was some kind of workgangs
shelter. But for me to think this would be to ignore all what I
had read. This had to be it, there was nowhere else. Graham also
pointed out what could be descerned as where a track once ran through
all the rubble and vegetation leading up to the entrance, he also
noted several large cables running inside, and a notice pinned to
On closer examination, this read "Key with MDP Corsham" which
we translated as Ministry of Defence Police Corsham. This was later
confirmed to Graham by Matthew Williams. Roger took several photos
while we looked around, and Graham walked into the rail tunnel itself
and wanted us to all go inside to look for other entrances, but
I was not that brave and preferred to stay trackside!
Walking back to the car to confer with the map, we confirmed that
the military installation was could see through the trees ahead
was indeed the rear of Rudloe Manor base. We spent the next half
hour or so walking along the perimeter fence, taking photos and
looking around. From what we could see the place looked like your
typical country mansion, with deckchairs all around, landscaped
gardens and well mowed lawns. We did not see a soul inside the perimeter
fence. We were confident that we were safe where we were as it seemed
to be a public footpath, we passed a few old ladies walking their
dogs, and it all seemed so nice and tranquil. If it had not been
for the fence with its MoD warning signs, RAF flying flag and the
drab green Bedford military truck parked by the Manor you would
never have thought it to be a military installation.
While we were looking at the Manor we ad noticed several old bunkers
in the field next to us, and since there were no fences we had sauntered
over to check them out. All had been blocked in and had clearly
not been used for some time. After Roger had taken some more photos
we moved on.
Corsham Computer Centre:
Rejoining the footpath we walked northwards, through wooded areas
and past little cottages with old folk tending to their allotments!
What was unusual about this place was the close proximity of civilian
communities to such a sensitive place. I suspect it's all part of
the base's cover. We were looking for the mysterious Corsham Computer
Centre, or CCC. From what I had read one could walk right up to
this place and take photos.
We stumbled upon what we'd been looking for quite by chance, a
white sign simply reading CCC, and a small single lane road running
off round a bend out of sight. On either side of this road were
hedges and trees, with a fence between the hedge and the road. There
was NO guard house, NO main gate or fence to stop curious walkers
like ourselves from walking up the road to see what was there. The
only security evident was a tall pole with security cameras, which
were obviously watching us. Since there was no sign telling people
to keep out, we confidently strode down the road and round the corner,
with Graham informing us that the camera was following our every
What we came across looked like Silbury Hill in miniature, a large
grass mound, with a fence around it and a bunker entrance. As we
walked towards it a security bloke came out and shut the gate, which
had been left open, and disappeared back inside! This was clearly
an indication that our presence was not welcome! We walked up to
the gates and looked inside, but all we could see were doors which
reminded me of the entrance to some plush hotel and white floors
inside the doors, other than that nothing.
We decided to hang around, Roger took some more pictures and we
walked around the mound, joking about climbing up it and sitting
on top! We also examined the only building, which was behind the
mound. This seemed to be a garage since it had garage doors and
a road leading up to it. What was strange to me about it was that
it was only big enough for one or two cars, and back up the road
we had seen a car park when we had first seen the CCC signs. I'd
read that it was here where personnel would leave their cars, so
why was this garage here? Perhaps the CO has his own personal parking
place. I also had the thought that it may be disguised as an innocent
garage, but was in fact a lift shaft to give vehicles access to
the underground facility beneath our feet.
I'd just started to put my idea across to Graham and Roger when
we heard a car approaching from the way we'd come. Looking round
we saw a dark coloured car come down the road towards us, come to
a halt and three individuals in suits step out, two men and a woman.
The way they made their entrance reminded me of 'Hawaii Five O!',
or some scene out of the 'X-Files' when the Men in Black turn up.
We immediately realised it was base security.
Coming over to us, they announced themselves as Ministry of Defence
police and showed us their ID, then proceeded to interrogate us
on who we were, what we were doing, why we were there and where
had we heard of this place from. One bloke said little, and sort
of just hung around, the other bloke asked questions and took notes
as we were asked for our names and addresses, while the lady talked
to us, me first while the one taking notes talked to Graham and
Roger. While all this was occurring two security guards had come
out of the CCC bunker and were standing around grimly, watching
the proceedings. How strange that instead of them simply closing
the gates on us and telling us to go away they avoided answering
any questions and called a covert base Security patrol.
It was obvious that they knew why we were there, they just had
to ask anyway. At this point it must be said that Graham's black
T-shirt with a 'Grey Alien' head on it did not go down too well!
The one taking notes noticed it and told us that "he is not down
there" in reference to the CCC bunker. With our map, camera and
binoculars we could hardly claim to be innocent tourists either.
This one had seemed the most sarcastic of the lot, I had taken
an immediate dislike to him and was on the verge of saying: "What
would you know, you're only a MoD plod!" But I thought I'd better
not. They asked Roger if he had taken any pictures and he confirmed
he had, but they did not confiscate the film. When I was talking
to the lady I protested, starting quite rightly that there was no
sign saying we could not come down the road and no fences or gates
stopping the public from coming in. I said that if there had been
we would not be there and it would not be necessary for them to
have to come down. It would save so much trouble. They had no real
reply to this, but simply asked what we intended to do next, to
which we replied we were going to remain in the area and have a
look around. When they heard this they suggested that we should
leave the area straight away, and that they did not want to have
to stop us again. With that parting threat they went into the CCC
bunker, obviously to have us checked out as potential IRA terrorists.
As we walked off I was smiling, quite pleased with having put
up a bit of an argument with them. After all I had heard about Rudloe
Manor, the rumours, talk of covert security, etc. It would have
been a huge anti-climax not to have been stopped, so I'm pleased
we were. But things had only just begun!
We reached the main road, and began walking west towards Hawthorn.
As we walked, Roger told us the car was still lurking. Where we
had parked the car was to the rear of the Manor part of the base,
and walking to the CCC had taken us north-east. well away from the
main Rudloe Manor complex and the CDCN, which was about a mile or
so further down the road. This was where we would really see a lot,
but we were destined never to get that far, not on foot anyway.
As we were walking we noticed more bunkers to our left, amongst
pretty ordinary houses, there were even some childrens swings. Like
at the CCC there were no fences, no signs, nothing suggesting that
it was military land. Anyone could leave the road and walk up to
them, like we had done with the others earlier. A small road branched
off to the left up ahead, and it passed quite close to the bunkers,
so we began to walk down it to check the bunkers out before continuing
towards Rudloe Manor. We hit big trouble right then.
Sure enough, the same crew in the dark car pulled up again. They
did not get out this time, but made it clear they were not best
pleased to be meeting us again. What was remarkable was that we
had only walked down a road, we had scaled no fences, and seen nothing
which you could not see from the road anyway. As far as I could
see they were getting very paranoid about nothing. They told us
that we were beginning to cause people extreme concern by us being
in the area, and even said that we were frightening the local civilians,
which I thought was hilarious. They demanded that we tell them exactly
where we had left the car, and we told them it was near the tunnel.
I protested again, to which the sarcastic one, who happened to be
driving, leaned across and said: "Look pal, have you ever heard
of the IRA?" The cheeky git, I thought, did they take us for idiots?
They must have checked us out, and could see we were just 3 more
UFO buffs looking around, like countless others before us. They
also told us we had strayed onto military land. Was this true or
a bluff? It seems the borders around the base between civil and
military land are deliberately non existent, so as to trap visitors
such as ourselves. We had gone thirty yards down a small road off
the main one and now we were breaching their security!
However, it seemed the time for arguing had ended. They said that
before they had suggested we leave, not they were giving us an official
warning that we should pack up and go, if they stopped us again
they said we would be pulled in. I vainly protested again, asking
what would happen if we drove past the base, to which they replied
that we could but we would be stopped the moment we got out of the
car, and it would be best if we just went home and stopped worrying
We agreed that it was best that, in the circumstances, we had
better go, as we did not like the idea of getting arrested. But
once at the car we decided on one last foray, one last act of defiance.
Having come so far, and only really seen one site of interest, the
CCC, we decided to drive on to see the main part of the base.
This we did, on either side of the road could be seen a vast military
base, home of so many rumours concerning UFOs. There were fences,
patrols, dogs, MoD police, etc. We drove past the front of Rudloe
Manor to our left and the CDCN to the right, and reached a T-junction,
from where we could see the base all around us. There were several
bunkers and air shafts evident, indicating a large underground facility.
I was amused to see a sweet shop beside the road, with several civilians
hanging around. Would we get arrested for hanging around like they
were? Here you could see sensitive military installations, where
we were, we were stopped beside some innocent houses and a few swings!
Only at the CCC were we stopped beside something sensitive, and
that was their fault as I had pointed out, by them not having any
closed gates, warning signs or fences.
About five minutes later we stopped for petrol on the other side
of Corsham. Talking to the assistant, she informed us that the underground
base was common knowledge and stretched to the east side of Corsham,
as far as the Safeways superstore. Later on at Roger's house we
had a good laugh about the thought of the MIBs arriving in the night
to collect Roger's film!
All I had heard about Rudloe Manor had been confirmed to me. I
have visited military bases before, Chicksands, Menwith Hill, Boscombe
Down, etc, and at none of them have I come into contact with such
tight security. They are so sensitive and touchy you have to be
there to see it. What are the reasons? Is it merely to guard a secret
underground base that is no secret at all? Is it to guard the wartime
seat of government, where Tony Blair and the Royal Family might
hide during a nuclear war? Or is there really some UFO connection,
as the rumours suggest?
Source: Society For Paranormal & UFO Research
(reprinted with permission)