From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

York ROC HQ No 20

Roc Headquarters
North Yorkshire
53° 57' 24.7" N 1° 7' 0.7" W

  • History
  • Gallery
York Roc Headquarters No 20 is located in the suburbs of York in North Yorkshire. The Royal Observer Corps bunker is hidden beneath an earth mound off Acomb Road in York, was opened on December 16, 1961. It was used to co-ordinate the results from the various Roc Posts dotted around Northern England with weather reports and send the results to the military and civil authorities.

The bunker was built in the grounds of Shelley House, a large Edwardian style manor. The house was sold and then demolished, the land redeveloped, leaving the bunker exposed amongst residential apartments.

The bunker was designed to hold sixty members. In case of nuclear war, this would have been the first sixty to arrive. Any late arrivals would not be allowed into the bunker. These sixty people could live in relative comfort, for about two weeks but could survive for at least another two weeks totally self-contained. The bunker was designed to withstand the radiation and fallout from a nuclear war and survive anything but a direct hit. The Headquarters were put on full alert during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. It was closed in 1992 after the end of the cold war.

English Heritage has undertaken a £250,000 restoration of the reinforced concrete bunker and has guides conducting tours around the three levels. Audio-visual effects and staff dressed in period uniforms show what it would have been like to work in the bunker, which acted as a nerve centre for monitoring the threat of nuclear explosions.

The bunker is now regarded as the nation's most complete Cold War relic, and in 2000 was given the same protection as a scheduled monument.