Derelict Royal Observer Corps Orlit B Post (Guist, Norfolk)

The disused Royal Observer Corps Orlit B Monitoring Post at Guist, Norfolk, was built during the Cold War and has been abandoned since 1968. (Image: Evelyn Simak. Disused Royal Observer Corps Orlit B Monitoring Post)

We’ve featured several abandoned Royal Observer Corps installations on Urban Ghosts to date, such as the ruined ROC Monitoring Posts at Ponteland (Northumberland) and Culham (Oxfordshire), and a number of other forgotten fortifications built for the defence of Britain during World War Two. This is the first time we’ve looked at Orlit Posts, however, which date to the Cold War and were often constructed near existing ROC monitoring installations. The abandoned Royal Observer Corps Orlit Post pictured in this article is located in the vicinity of Guist, a village in the East Anglian county Norfolk.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

All across Europe and beyond, World War Two had demonstrated the devastating reality of aerial bombardment. If the United Kingdom were to go to war again, it stood to reason that enemy aircraft would pose an even more deadly threat to the nation. The 1940s had given rise to the Jet Age, and existing monitoring technology would struggle to keep up with newer, faster planes, capable of carrying a heavier bomb load that their Second World War predecessors.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

Though the need for updated ROC posts had been identified by 1947, it wasn’t until the early 1950s – with the deployment of the vast ROTOR air defence radar system – that more substantial buildings were constructed, in a bid to counter the increasing threat of Soviet bombers.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

Named for their manufacturers, Messrs Orlit Ltd, two variants of installation were constructed; Orlit A posts were built at ground level while Orlit B examples perched some six feet above ground on four legs. Accessed by a ladder, these basic, ultilitarian structures were usually constructed of pre-cast concrete.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

The abandoned ROC post at Guist, which was operational during the decade from December 1958 to October 1968, is an example of an Orlit B installation. It’s situated near a derelict subterranean monitoring post (above and below) some 150 yards north of Furze Lane, between Guist and the small village of Wood Norton. To the west lie the remains of RAF Foulsham, an abandoned Bomber Command station and one of the few World War Two airfields equipped with the FIDO fog dispersal system.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

When Subterranea Britannica documented the disused Orlit B post in 1999, they reported that the surface structures were “in fair condition” but that “all the doors, shelves etc have been removed.” Describing the overall site, Subbrit wrote: “Some compound fencing remains in place. All surface features remain intact but the ventilation louvres are missing and the ventilation shaft is reduced to a pile of rubble above ground level. The hatch is open. Internally the post is strewn with rubbish and has been completely stripped. The internal door to the monitoring room is hanging off its hinges.”

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

These photographs, which were posted to Geograph more than a decade after Subterranea Britannica visited the abandoned Orlit B facility, suggest that little has changed at the former Cold War monitoring installation in recent years. The internals are gutted and littered with debris. Even so, the structure echoes those tense Cold War decades and, like many other forgotten posts up and down the country, serves as an unassuming reminder of the Corps, which was officially stood down in 1996.

(Image: Evelyn Simak)

Related: 10 Surviving Military Abandonments of World War Two


About the author: Tom





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