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Mackintosh Road, RAF Filter Block (The Bunker)

A Category B Listed Building in Inverness Millburn, Highland

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.4814 / 57°28'52"N

Longitude: -4.199 / 4°11'56"W

OS Eastings: 268253

OS Northings: 845590

OS Grid: NH682455

Mapcode National: GBR J80Y.FBN

Mapcode Global: WH4GH.G7P1

Entry Name: Mackintosh Road, RAF Filter Block (The Bunker)

Listing Date: 4 September 2002

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 396755

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB49181

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Inverness

County: Highland

Town: Inverness

Electoral Ward: Inverness Millburn

Traditional County: Inverness-shire

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Description

1941, modernised 1988-1991. 2-storey sunken rectangular-plan concrete bunker, earthen mound at ground level.

SE (MAIN) ELVATION: modern rectangular concrete entrance block, set into mound to left. Flight of short steps to sunken original entrance, set into mound to right. Large modern lattice communications tower to centre. 3 concrete ventilation towers running over crest of mound to far right.

INTERIOR: upper level: access gained through modern concrete entrance block; steps leading down to decontamination area, large metal blast door. Main upper corridor running around 2 1/2 sides of bunker; Conference and Briefing Suite with five rooms running around. Ventilation Plant Room with workshop to E; modern ventilation system, 1988, including two racing bicycles mounted on concrete plinths, front wheels removed, back wheels connected to belt drive (incase of a power failure these would be used to keep the air circulating). Rear of Ventilation Plant Room two steps lead up to small Filter Room, leading from this two metal blast doors with short flight of stairs to original entrance, now used as exit, 2002. Lower level: flights of stairs to E and W leading from upper level to lower, main lower corridor running around 2 1/2 sides of bunker, rooms leading off including; Central Control Room, Radio Room; acoustic booths along each wall including Communications Centre, small Telephone Exchange. The Generator Room consists of 2 Perkins diesel generators served by a mains tank on the surface. The Generator and Tank Room to far E of bunker accessed through 2 gas tight doors, Shower Room between Generator Room and main corridor. To W of Control Room, Kitchen and Canteen.

Statement of Interest

Listed at category B for historic interest. The original WW2 Sector Operation Centre at Raigmore, Inverness consisted of three separate bunkers, an Operations Block, a Filter Block and a Communications Block. The Filter Block is the only building not to have been demolished, 2002. The centre was crucial to the RAF in acting as an early warning system in the defence of Britain during WW2. The purpose of the Filter Block was to process and analyse information collected by Radar Stations and the Royal Observers Corps on any impending hostile strikes. The core of the bunker was located in a two storey central Filter Room, known as the 'pit'. A plotting table was located in the room, the table consisted of a map of Northern Britain, the Atlantic and the North Sea. Approximately 20 Filter Plotters worked around the table, each one linked to one or more Radar Stations. The Filter Controller, Raid Recognition Officer, Meteorologists and Teleprinter operators all occupied a balcony running to three sides on the upper level. The information that was gathered and analysed in the Filter Room was passed on to the Operations Block where orders would have been given to intercept the hostile targets. By the end of the war the bunker's jurisdiction covered the whole of Scotland and Northern England. With the advent of the Jet Aircraft and their higher speeds and abilities in the mid 1940's, the existing old Radar Systems and Filter Blocks became immediately obsolete, the bunker closed in 1946. The bunker was occupied by the Civil Defence Corps from 1958 to 1968, and was then used by the Royal Observers Corps in addition to their own protected accommodation in the former, nearby Operations Block. During the 1980's with the worsening situation of the Cold War, the government decided to implement certain policies for Civil Defence in the UK. Each local government region was provided with an Emergency Centre to co-ordinate the protection of the local population. In 1988 a 90% government grant was made available to Highland Regional Council and work began on converting the RAF Filter Block to an Emergency Centre. The refit cost £0.5 million pounds and included incorporating a massive water tank in the basement, a new ventilation system and blast doors to the original and newly built entrances. The Filter Room was floored across in the conversion and split up into different rooms. As the alterations to the bunker were coming to an end in 1991 the world situation had changed radically, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the improved relations between East and West signalled the end of the Cold War. After a succession of major civil disasters including the Piper Alpha Oil Rig disaster and Pan Am Boeing 747 disaster it was decided by the government that the Local Authorities should have emergency plans in place to deal with civil protection. The bunker became and is still today (2002) the Emergency Centre for the Highland Area. It is from here that the local Authority co-ordinates its response to any type of disaster or major incident.

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