RAF Longley Lane SOC Communications Bunker

Inside the abandoned RAF Longley Lane SOC Communications Bunker (Image: Andy Hebden; the former RAF Longley Lane SOC Communications Bunker)

Ask most people, and they’d probably tell you that Britain’s landscape is one of the most-peaceful on the planet. In one sense, they’re right: the rolling hills and quiet valleys of this rain-soaked island are indeed green and pleasant. Yet, across every square inch of this proud country are reminders of the dark days of the 20th century; a time of militarisation, of threat, of whole countries on a permanent war footing.

You can even find evidence of this in places as sleepy as the village of Broughton, Lancashire (population: 1,722), which is home to the abandoned RAF Longley Lane SOC Communications Bunker.

Farm machinery stored inside the derelict RAF Longley Lane SOC Communications Bunker (Image: Andy Hebden)

During the Second World War, as the entire nation scrambled to deal with the Nazi threat, the RAF installed a three-room communications bunker complex here to help combat the Luftwaffe. So useful did it prove that it kept up this role after the war. But the 1950s the site had become a Sector Operations Centre (SOC), providing a key link in the ROTOR defensive radar net surrounding Britain, intended to war of incoming Soviet nuclear bombers.

(Image: Andy Hebden)

The military installation remained active in this guise for only a few years, and had closed by 1957. The RAF Longley Lane SOC Communications Bunker was eventually turned into a military firing range, then abandoned altogether. Seen today, it isn’t much to look at. A few empty rooms, repurposed by local farmers. A lump of earth, topped by forlorn, grey towers.

(Image: Andy Hebden)

Yet, in another sense, the bunker is a symbol of an entire slice of British history. A remnant from a past based heavily on conflict and the possibility of more conflict. A frozen fragment of time left over from the days when it seemed the country was mere minutes away from nuclear obliteration, and only small, unassuming communications stations like this stood between locals and complete oblivion.

Related: 10 Abandoned Radar Bases & Early Warning Stations



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