Record Details

NHER Number:26488
Type of record:Monument
Name:Royal Observer Corps Headquarters, Chartwell Road


This is the group headquarters of fifty-five Royal Observer Corps Cold War underground monitoring posts in Norfolk, whose purpose was to monitor fall-out in the event of a nuclear strike. Opened in 1961, the headquarters is a two storey semi-sunken structure whose function was to analyse information received about fall-out from the individual posts. When sealed, the building was designed to be self-sufficient for a week under fall-out conditions. The majority of the buildings, however, are visible on aerial photographs from World War Two, suggesting that the origin of the site was during this period. Closed in 1991, it is now disused and access is discouraged.


  • The Royal Observers Corp headquarters at Sprowston, Norwich.  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service


Grid Reference:TG 2356 1134
Map Sheet:TG21SW

Full description

Royal Observer Corps Headquarters, Chartwell Road.
Probably early 1950s from design details, however Chartwell Road not constructed until late 1960s. However an earlier small scale map seems to show a building on the site set back from Constitution Hill. (The site is in an odd re-entrant of Broadland District south of the ring road, counted as Norwich for the NHER).
Deep underground chambers remain, and ruinous sheds on surface. Now disused.
Information from Broadland Council.
See survey report (S1) for further details. See also press cutting in file for NHER 33781.
E. Rose (NLA) 29 July 1998.

According to source [1] there was an earlier bunker on the site during World War Two, at that time in an orchard, used for the radar controllers for RAF Coltishall dispersed from Stratton Strawless Hall.
The present headquarters was in fact built in 1961.
For full description of structure and function see (S2). Plans (S3) in file.
E. Rose (NLA), 27 November 1998 and July 2000.

See press cutting filed under NHER 33781 as well as press cutting (S4) in this file.
Full survey in file.

February 2009.
Planning permission sought regarding the demolition of derelict sheds and the provision of 600 square meters of retail space with parking.
See (S5) for further information
H. White (NLA), 23 March 2009

April 2010. Norfolk NMP.
The majority of the buildings are visible on aerial photographs from World War Two (S6-S7) with blast walls around them, and the site remains largely unchanged except for the addition of one or two structures in the post war period (S8-S10), suggesting that the origin of the site was during World War Two.
A barrage balloon is also visible to the north of the area during World War Two (S6), centred on TG 2353 1135, as well as a number of zig zag practice trenches.
E. Bales (NMP), April 2010.

Architecture of the (now demolished) bunker is strongly suggestive of a 1960s date, with overpressure valves, monitoring equipment etc. While this may be on the footprint of a Second World War structure, it gives the (strong) appearance of a standard ROC construction.
K Hamilton (HES), November 2015.

Monument Types

  • BARRAGE BALLOON SITE (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • BLAST WALL (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • MILITARY BUILDING (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • PRACTICE TRENCH (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)
  • ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS SITE (Cold War - 1945 AD to 1992 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1999. Bunker mentality and a lasting mystery. 20 January.
---Unpublished Document: 2011. Planning Application.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2008. Bid to save relic of Cold War. 20 June.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Unpublished Report: Brennan, R. 2001. Former ROC Headquarters, Chartwell Road, Sprowston, Norwich. Building Report.
<S2>Article in Serial: Catford, D.. 1999. ROC Underground Posts in Norfolk.. NIAS Journal. Vol 6, No 4. pp 59ff.
<S3>Illustration: Various. Various. Architectural plans.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1998. Bunker could be used as museum. 21 August.
<S5>Unpublished Document: lsi architects. 2009. Design and Access Statement, Former Royal Observer Corps Headquarters, Chartwell Road, Norwich.
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: USAAF. 1944. US/7GR/LOC348 3193 27-MAY-1944 (NMR).
<S7>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK 772 6331-2 06-SEPT-1945 (NMR).
<S8>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1947. RAF CPE/UK/2050 5198-9 06-MAY-1947 (NMR).
<S9>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1951. RAF 58/644 5160-1 20-APR-1951 (NMR).
<S10>Vertical Aerial Photograph: Meridian Airmaps Limited. 1961. MAL 61500 95688-9 30-AUG-1961 (NMR).

Related records - none

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