ID: TUP_CWA / Peter Tucker

TitleThe Cold War
AbstractAn occurrence took place at Mersea which went mostly unnoticed and as far as I know unrecorded. Although it happened on Council ground it is doubtful that this body had any say or were even consulted. The fore-going I must stress is quite unsupported but there has been no indication of it in any records that I am aware of. I am somewhat at a loss to put a date to it, but will make an educated guess that it was between 1950 and 1964 which gives a lot of leeway.

The so called COLD WAR is shown as beginning in 1946 and coming to an end officially in November 1990. Best described as a "State of Hostility between Nations without actual Fighting", consisting of threats, violent propaganda, subversive political activities or the like, specifically those between the U.S.S.R and Western Powers after the second World War. The end came by a declaration of Friendship and a Treaty agreeing to a great reduction of conventional weaponry in Europe.

The Cold War encompassed the Siege of Berlin by the Soviets and the Berlin Airlift to fly in supplies by Britain and her Allies in 1948. The testing of an Atomic Bomb by Britain in 1952, death of Stalin 1953. U2 spy plane in 1960, the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962, Cruise Missiles installed in the U.K. and Germany in 1983, Berlin Wall broken 1989 and East and West Germany united in 1990.

To return to the heading of the first paragraph, I do remember on one of my somewhat rare walks along Mersea beach and the greensward behind the huts, that an unexplained digging of a sizeable hole had taken place in the main car park. This was just behind the St John Ambulance hut which was manned by volunteers during summer months to give first aid if required to accidents in the beach area. I was with some other folk but cannot recall who they were. However we inspected it, passed comment but could come up with no answers as to it's likely use. Not taking to the beach often, the next time I passed that way, the large hole had gone and was grassed over with a louvered box and one or two other appendages sticking out from the area and a modest low fence around the whole to make it all tidy and inoffensive. I do recall asking around and discussing it with various mates, but nothing came in way of any explanation and it was promptly forgotten about.

In June 1998 I received a phone call from Mrs Mary Hargreaves of Seaview Avenue who I knew and had worked for in the past. She had been Mayor for a couple of times and she told me that she had received a letter from a man in the Kent area requesting her help in establishing the whereabouts of an R.O.C. Monitoring Post which had been installed at West Mersea. He supplied her with a photocopy of the seafront at Mersea with an arrow pointing to a large dot with R.O.C.? written under it. He also enclosed a photocopy of what the under ground post would look like with a key of the services. Mary knew that I had written at some length in the local rag about the Wartime Gun Emplacement and therefore thought that I might be able to help. She and her family had only come to the Island in 1967. I looked at the printout and decided that it had got to be a Nuclear Bomb Monitoring Station as ordinary H.E.s do not have Fallout that would require observers holed up with beds and radios and survival kits. It was clearly hush hush at the time it was installed and one of many throughout the Country I would guess. I took Mary down to the site but we found that it had all been cleaned up and reinstated at sometime earlier. However, by close inspection I could still with the aid of the diagram, make out the extent and scope of it all. I wrote out the necessary covering letter for Mary and photocopied the info for my collection. Sadly I omitted to photo copy. the request letter which was a mistake and regrettably Mary destroyed it for the wretched man never ever said thank you. Just who were to be the "lucky" two men to live in the hole will forever be a mystery. However it's all part of history and I'm just glad that it was not used with all that that would have implied.

I have tried to find out when the Royal Observer Corps was stood down after the war, but have so far been unable to come up with anything, either from local enquiries or from the internet via my son-in-law. I do recall a good deal of annoyance by the existing observers who thought that it should continue. However regrettable this might have seemed, in the age of Rockets Cruise Missiles and Unmanned Aircraft, there seems little to be gained from the old "look-see" procedure with even modern Aircraft flying at almost the speed of sound and any sighting being sent by phone or radio would mean that the enemy would be 100 miles on at its receipt. I suppose that it was the companionship that would be missed by the Observers, perhaps in the Pub Bars after the meetings.

However, after much surfing. it does appear that we do have a U.K.W.M.C. which seems to be somewhat furtive in nature. The United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Control which I assume ties up with the Fylingdales Early Warning Complex on the Yorkshire Moors. It therefore points I feel to our little "hole in the ground" at Mersea beach which was found to be redundant in the light of the big advances in Satellite Technology that is forever being updated.


1st July 1998
Dear Mrs Hargreaves
Following your visit of last week to discuss the request for information about the whereabouts of the R.O.C. Monitoring post, I have given the matter a great deal of thought. Since our visit to the area concerned and the war time gunsite I feel that my observations at the time were correct.

As I indicated to you, I remember the excavations taking place but did not see what went into the hole, not being a regular beach goer so to speak. I do remember however, the finished site with the air ventilator louvred box top and something similar to the entrance as shown on the illustration supplied. By this time the site had been grassed over and a fence of sorts had been erected around the whole unit. It was subject to some local discussion, but little was known as to what it really was. It was clearly some secret installation we thought, and it looks as though we were right. None of the local members of the R.O.C. that I knew appeared to have any connection with it. I cannot recall when the Corps were disbanded either,

I have marked on the map where it was sited, in line with Empress Avenue and beside the fence that separates the carpark from the putting green and a few yards from the backs of the second row of beach huts.

The arrow pointing to R.O.C. Post?? on the map is of the wartime gun emplacements and the underground magazine that went with them. There was also a range finder housed in an extension to the roof of the old public toilet block. There was no other observation post in the area.

I recall that Mr William Clary was a founder member of the first Observer Corps site in Yorick Road. The post moved to a new site on the field bordered by Mersea Avenue/ St Peters Road/ Firs Road just prior to the war, and was manned by a team of locals.

Trust this information will be of value. Kind regards

Peter Tucker.

A typical Royal Observer Corps Nuclear Monitoring Post

AuthorPeter Tucker
SourceMersea Museum
Related Images:
 Diagram of a Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post. It is thought one of these was built between 1960 and 1968, under West Mersea sea front, in line with Empress Avenue, in southeast corner of Esplanade Car Park.
</p><p>Recorded on Colchester Heritage Explorer <a href= target=cbe></a>  TUP_CWA_003
ImageID:   TUP_CWA_003
Title: Diagram of a Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post. It is thought one of these was built between 1960 and 1968, under West Mersea sea front, in line with Empress Avenue, in southeast corner of Esplanade Car Park.

Recorded on Colchester Heritage Explorer

Source:Mersea Museum / Peter Tucker Collection