Lancashire At War.co.uk

Exploring the hidden history of War sites in Lancashire

RAF Bempton (North East Yorkshire)

I came across RAF Bempton by accident. As a passenger on a holiday I spotted something I thought "might be WW2" and so had the journey take a brief detour...

 

Ending up at a bird sanctuary and having paid through the nose I walked along a coastal path looking inland taking photos of strange concrete structures while those around me photographed birds and the sea view. Each to their own.

 

A bit of research and it turns out this site began life in World War Two as RAF Bempton but carried on into the Cold War as an experimental radar site. What can be seen above ground today is a mixture of both eras. The striking concrete posts laid out in formation are part of a Cold War over-the-horizon-radar experiment. The aparatus are now gone, just the concrete posts remain, I doubt therefore it was successful.

 

The Cold War bunker itself is underground and expanded the WW2 site. The site is now abandoned and is on private land without public access.

 

Fairly recently, there was a large fire in the underground complex. The fire released huge amounts of asbestos particles into the whole complex as this was a favoured building material back then

 

Some "urban explorers" have ventured down without permission before and after the fire and posted their footage online. Due to the nature of the site after the fire, we would say that if the idea of trespassing into a dangerous place was not enough to put you off, then doing so into a building free flowing with asbestos fibres SHOULD completely put a stop to the idea.

 

There are videos of people "taking precautions" but the PPE they use does not even come close to what they need to wear when entering a site contaminted with asbestos. Our advice, having undergone asbestos awareness training several times is this - don't do it, you will pay much later in life with a horrible illness.

So if you want to see what it looks like in the safety of your home TAKE THIS VIRTUAL TOUR

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Pastscape tells us the following:

"The site of a Royal Air Force Chain Home Low radar station at Bempton established by June 1941. It provided early warning of approaching low-flying enemy aircraft during the Second World War. Chain Home Low sites typically comprised two gantries carrying the transmitter and receiver aerial arrays, a transmitter and receiver hut, a standby set house for the reserve power, and a general purposes hut. Defence measures installed at radar stations included Light Anti-Aircraft gun emplacements, pillboxes, road blocks and air raid shelters. The site was upgraded in 1942 and fitted with centimetric radar to become a Chain Home Extra Low station, called site K159. Aerial photography from 1997 shows that the site was later turned into a Rotor station (see HOB UID 1447327). The remains of at least four Second World War buildings are visible at TA 192 737. A range of buildings and aerial bases at TA 193 742 are part of the Rotor station. It comprises a guardroom, operations block, Type 80 building, over five Type 13/14 aerial bases, and a sewage works

Above: a non digital camera photo, the old-school look of the photo suits the Cold War feel of the site.

 

Left: An aerial view courtesy of Google Earth.

 

Below: The view out to see from the radar station

 

Below Right: What the bird spotters come to see.