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The Silver Thread - Orford Ness

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One of my favourite haunts is Orford Ness, a wild and desolate shingle spit on the Suffolk Coast in the Uk. 

Orford Ness' military history began in 1913, when the Central Flying School’s Experimental Flying Section took ownership of part of the peninsula. Experiments with parachutes, camouflage and aircraft evaluation.

German POWs were kept at the site during WWI - and helped to build the flood defenses.

In 1929, Orford Ness was chosen as the site for early British explorations into the field of radar. The beacon established at the site was a simple radio installation that looked something like a sail-less windmill (which still stands today).

Within a few years, the tests conducted at Orford Ness gave the British the theoretical and practical background necessary to construct the network of radar-directed air defence that would prove so critical during the RAF's battle with the Luftwaffe in WWII.

In 1950, the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment was created to coordinate Britain's efforts in nuclear warfare and took control of the Orford Ness site, which became a testing ground for building design that could withstand nuclear blasts. Officially, no  nuclear material was ever detonated at the site, but explosive tests were certainly carried out to test the functional performance of distinctive 'pagoda' shaped buildings - some of which remain standing to this day.



Edited by Clactonian
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A bleak look to this iamge  -  it somehows goes with the potted history that you have shared with us (thanks for both). 


I like your use of the word "Officially".  😉


Most of the official British detonations were done in Australia as far as I know.

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Yes agree with Hugh, thanks. Spent most of my working life with the MoD working on nuclear submarine systems in West London next door almost to Heathrow airport!

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Thank you both. I'll dig out some more images of the Ness to show you just how desolate it is. If anybody is thinking of paying a visit then take some warm clothing any time other than high summer.

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