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Tertowie House

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Tertowie House lies near Kinellar, to the west of Dyce. The two storey house is credited to architect James Mathews in 1867, and may have incorporated parts of an earlier structure (possibly 16th century) on the site. Dr William Kelly made further additions in 1905.

The property was bought by Aberdeen City Council in 1944, and subsequently used by Aberdeen College as an educational and training facility, and as accommodation for students of the School of Rural Studies.

The house is believed to have been abandoned some time after 2000.

In September 2004, the house was placed on the market for offers over £325,000. A spokesman said: "The principal lot is the substantial Scots Baronial-style mansion Tertowie House and grounds, extending to over 13 acres in total, which offer a tennis court, playing field and even an underground emergency bunker. This Grampian Regional Council emergency centre was opened in 1962 as the north-east sector Civil Defence Corps group control and it remained in use until the end of the Civil Defence Corps in 1968. It was re-activated and modernised in 1987, but was finally closed in 1998. Tertowie House was extended in the 1960s to provide extra facilities, including classrooms and a gymnasium. The original house retains a great deal of charm and appealing features, such as a stained-glass window and an impressive staircase in the main entrance hall."[1]

The house, including the bunker, was reported sold in 2005 for £400,000. However, planning permission to transform the property into a private dwelling was withdrawn by the owner in 2009.[2][3]

In November 2011, one wing of the house was badly damaged in a fire of unknown origin, although the remainder of the building was reported to have avoided any major damage.[4][5]

North East Sector Civil Defence Group Control

The most interesting aspect of this house is not the building above ground, but the bunker which was located beneath the gymnasium, and began as the Grampian Regional Council Emergency Centre. The bunker was opened in 1962 as the North East Sector Civil Defence Group Control, and remained in use until the Civil Defence Corps stand down in 1968. It was reactivated and modernised in 1987 finally closed in 1998.

From a set of pictures seen on Flickr and dating from December 2011, it could be seen that the bunker was still accessible at the time, and appeared little different from the report of a visit ten years earlier.[6]

We are grateful to our friends at Subterranea Britannica for permission to reproduce the following report:

Site Name: Grampian Regional Council Emergency Centre
NJ823102
Blackburn
Aberdeenshire

RSG site visit 12th October 2001

Decontamination area and emergency exit, Nick Catford, 2001
Decontamination area and
emergency exit
© Nick Catford

Grampian Regional Council Emergency Centre was located beneath the gym of Tertowie House a residential school (now disused) at Blackburn north west of Aberdeen. The bunker was opened in 1962 as the NORTH EAST SECTOR CIVIL DEFENCE CORPS GROUP CONTROL and remained in use until the end of Civil Defence Corps in 1968. It was reactivated and modernised in 1987 finally closing in 1998. The bunker is accessed from a recessed steel blast door along a sunken footpath close to the gym; this opens into a 40' long bare concrete corridor with 6 steps at the end down into the decontamination area, which runs at right angles. To the right of the steps is a second blast door and behind it a ladder up to an escape hatch beside the entrance to the gym, to the left is a shower above a large metal grille in the floor and beyond that a third blast door after which the passage turns right into the main corridor.

The first room on the right is a unisex toilet with two cubicles, two washbasins and a shower. The next room contains a small Lister generator, ventilation trunking and a fan; the generator can still be started. To the left of the ventilation plant there is a small blast door in the wall leading to filters and chillers. To the right of the generator a door leads into a room containing another larger generator with a wall mounted control cabinet. Wooden steps at the back of the room lead, through a small wooden door to the tank (fuel and water) room. At the end of the corridor is the kitchen with all the usual appliances; stainless steel sink, Tricity cooker, Dexion shelves and a kitchen unit comprising a preparation surface, cupboards and drawers. On the opposite side of the corridor the first room entered is a large store, entering this room a door to the right leads into the canteen and rest room (also accessed from the corridor) and a door to the left leads into the Scientific Advisors Room. There has a large 1:50,000 ordnance survey map covering the whole of Aberdeenshire plus a UKWMO map of the UK showing Sectors, Groups and ROC Posts (in clusters). A third wall map is an outline of the Aberdeen ROC Group showing posts and clusters with roads and rivers marked. Two of the maps (not the UKWMO map) have rolled plastic overlays that can be pulled down and marked as necessary. There is also a large floor standing rack with a send and receive telegraph system unit still in place.

Scientific advisors room, Nick Catford, 2001
Scientific advisors room
© Nick Catford

The Scientific Advisors Room has a door into the Operations Room; this room can also be accessed from the Store Room. The 'Ops' Room has a display board on one wall with columns 'D.T.G.' and 'To be seen by' and another 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey map covering the whole of Aberdeenshire. Three further rooms can be accessed from the 'Ops' Room, the Communications Room and the MSX Room (which are themselves interconnected) and the Dormitory, which also has a door into the Canteen/Rest Room. The Communications Room is empty while the MSX has an intercom unit connecting to the front blast door (still working), BT junction boxes and an MSX rack. The whole room is a Faraday Cage with a fine metal grille fixed to the back of each door. There are 18 triple bunks in the dormitory these have all been dismantled or were probably never been put together. There is also a small blast door in the wall. This leads to a ladder, which emerges through a second escape hatch on the far side of the gym. Internally the bunker is carpeted throughout and is clean and dry with most of the lights working. There are a number of supporting concrete pillars in rooms.

Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford, Robin Ware, Keith Ward and Robin Cherry, Ward & Caroline Westwater.

© Subterranea Britannica[7]

References

1 Mansion is an ideal buy for security conscious in fear of terror - News - Scotsman.com Retrieved November 30, 2011.

2 Tertowie House Retrieved November 30, 2011.

3 Tertowie Bunker Retrieved November 30, 2011.

4 BBC News - Tertowie mansion house blaze investigated Retrieved November 30, 2011.

5 Fire tackled at derelict mansion | Aberdeen and North | STV News Retrieved November 30, 2011.

6 Aberdeen - Tertowie House - a set on Flickr Retrieved February 12, 2012.

7 Subterranea Britannica: Research Study Group: Sites: Tertowie House Retrieved November 30, 2011.

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