The remains of a postwar Anti-Aircraft Operations Room (AAOR) lie in woods to the east of Inverkip, approximately six miles south west of Greenock. It was also known as HMS Dalriada and Square Wood.
The large concrete building was constructed between 1950 and 1951, and comprised two storeys - one above, and one below ground level, within a large fenced compound. It soon fell out of use and was and handed over to the Royal Navy around c. 1964/5, used by the Royal Navy Reserve (RNR) and becoming HMS Dalriada between 1965 and 1969, and finally abandoned in the mid 1970s. Devastated by fire in the late 1990s, the ground floor was severely damaged, and the lower floor, although undamaged by the fire, was flooded as a result of the fire fighting effort above. Reports indicate recognisable remains within the building, but that the entrances have been sealed using welded steel sheeting. The compound also contained an engine room, and a number of radio masts, of which some remains are still reported.
A site visit during 2007 found the exterior of the site largely as described, although the the secluded location means the building is subject to on-going vandalism, even though it does appear to be effectively sealed.
The main entrance is protected by a substantial concrete canopy and blast wall. The rear entrance has no similar protection, but is adjacent to a later, less substantial extension, possibly added when the room later served as HMS Dalriada. The adjacent engine room remains, essentially a shell, with the engine bases clearly visible, together with the air intake and exhaust ports still present, with fans and covers still in place. The felt covering of the roof still appears to be in place, and in good condition despite being unmaintained since the 1970s. The same cannot be said of the room's concrete roof vents, which have have been successfully smashed to remove their upper parts. On the roof, in the main compound, and in the immediate area, there is evidence of the numerous mast that once surrounded and served the AAOR, with an number of mast sections and guying components to be found, and one small mast still standing.
We are grateful to our friends at Subterranea Britannica for permission to reproduce the following details. Please be sure to review the original report at the link given below, as this contains significant additional images and illustrations:
Site Name: Inverkip - 3 Group, 77 Brigade AAOR serving the Clyde Anchorage GDA
On track linking Millhouse Road & Langhouse Road, Inverkip, Scotland
OS Grid Ref: NS216720
RSG site visit 20th April 2001 [Source: Nick Catford]
INVERKIP AAOR serving 3 Group 77 Brigade, the Clyde Anchorage gun defended area (GDA). The bunker is of the standard AAOR design, both entrances being on the upper storey which is above ground, the lower storey being below ground. The bunker is located within a fenced compound in a wooded area on the south side of an unmade track to The Langhouse Hotel at NS215720. Several years ago the building was severely damaged by fire and as a result of the fire brigade putting the fire out and some seepage the lower floor is now flooded to a depth of 15".
All the walls are covered in thick soot. The seat of the fire appears to have been the balcony which is badly damaged. All the curved Perspex windows have gone and most of the timber is badly burnt. Strangely the fire doesn't seem to have migrated downwards and the wooden stairway directly from the balcony into the well is only slightly singed and is perfectly usable. Most of the rooms on this level have been stripped out but the guard room immediately inside the front entrance retains an intercom unit and a rifle rack. Next to it is the kitchen with a cooker, sink and draining board and along one side is a room with a large blackboard mounted on one wall with the following painted column headings: Port or assembly anchorage, 'Ships in port' (with sub headings: 'Ready to sail in next 24 hours', 'Requiring Bunkers' [ships awaiting fueling], 'Total', 'Expected arrivals in next 24 hours' and 'Remarks'. Another board in the same room is headed 'Main plot' These boards refer to the buildings later use as a naval control centre under the name HMS Dalriada. When it was no longer required as an AAOR it was handed over to the Navy, remaining in use at least until the mid 1970's. The toilets, with most appliances smashed are also on this level with an other board lying on the floor with two columns: 'Ships at Sea' and 'Ships in Port'.
The lower level of the bunker is mainly undamaged by the fire although there is soot on the walls in places. One of the rooms contains one of the original plotting tables with its Perspex map screen broken into several pieces. It is still possible to make out some of the wording on it. On the wall there is a large board headed 'Aircraft State' it has the following columns: 'Type', 'Where', 'S/US', 'Due S' and 'Remarks'. This may be from the buildings earlier use as an AAOR.
The most interesting room on this level is the communications room which has a long table along one wall with compartments underneath it and a wooden framework above it with more compartments. There is a separate teleprinter table with its teleprinter intact and on the far side of the room is a large floor standing electrical cabinet full of relays and transformers etc. In a small adjacent room is a large GPO switching frame. There is another smaller communication room nearby with acoustic booths along both walls. Other rooms on this level include the boiler room, ventilation plant room and standby generator room which all have their plant still in situ although partially under water.
When visited in 2001 access was possible through a hole in the bricked up rear entrance porch. Steel sheets have now been welded over both entrance doorways and entry into the building is no longer possible.
Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford and Robin Ware
In April 2010, a planning application was submitted to Inverclyde Council, seeking a change of use and extension to the former anti-aircraft operations room, in order to form a single dwelling.
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