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AAOR Torrance House

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The remains of a postwar anti-aircraft operations room (AAOR) can be found in the grounds of Calderglen Country Park, 100 metres southwest of Torrance House within a small wooded area. The AAOR is not connected to, or part of, Torrance House, which has been converted to residential flats.

The two storey building - one storey above ground, and one below - was originally constructed during the early 1950s, as part of the country's Cold War defences, but by the 1960s, attack from the air byby bombers was considered unlikely, and it became a regional control centre, a Regional Seat of Government (RSG) for government use, integrating fire, police, military, health, communications (containing a BBC studio), and also ROC operations in the event of nuclear attack.

The exterior of the building has deteriorated considerably, and has also been subject to fire attack. The interior was extensively modified, and the building was used for some time as storage for operations within the park.

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

Site Name: Torrance House (East Kilbride) - 3 Group, 68 Brigade AAOR serving the Glasgow/Clyde GDA

Calderglen Country Park
East Kilbride
OS Grid Ref: NS653526
[Source: War Plan UK by Duncan Campbel and Plan for Survival by Steve Fox]

The 3 Group 68 Brigade AAOR for Glasgow/Clyde GDA is located within a fenced compound adjacent to Torrance House (now converted to residential flats) in Calderglen Country Park, East Kilbride.

The blockhouse, 2001
The blockhouse
© Nick Catford

After it was no longer required for its original purpose it took on a new role. In the 1960's, Scotland was divided into 3 zones - North, East and West with controls at Anstruther (north) in fife, Kirknewton (east) in Lothian and Torrance House (west) in East Kilbride. These reported to a Scottish Central Control at Barnton Quarry in Edinburgh. This arrangement continued until 1983 when the East and west zones were merged to form the new South Zone. The Zone Headquarters at Kirknewton would now act as the Scottish Central headquarters and house the Scottish Commissioner (the peacetime Secretary of State for Scotland).

`Torrance House' utilised a former Antiaircraft Operations Room near Torrance House in Calderglen Park, East Kilbride, the site being much more densely surrounded with trees when it was operational. This building, known until 1983 as Scottish Western Zone SRC was led by the Zone Commissioner (at one time believed to be the Lord Provost of Glasgow). It contained the usual operational posts of Fire, Police, Military, Health and had a BBC studio. In addition, the ROC serviced a Scientific group who supported the Zone team on radiological analysis. ROC teams plotted bursts from BB / FF teletype streams from 25 Group at Ayr and possibly from Dundee (Craigiebarns) and Oban and also provided Comms support.

Externally it is of a standard design with a third door added to the two original entrances, both on the upper floor. The lower floor is entirely below ground. Internally the building has changed out of all recognition. The balcony around the central well has been floored across and numerous rooms have been added in this area at both levels. We were unable to find any evidence of the BBC studio although one or two rooms were locked.

The communications room, 2001
The communications room
© Nick Catford

One long room has acoustic booths along two walls and would have been the communications room. The original boiler has been removed and replaced with a more modern unit, the standby generator has been removed but the original ventilation plant is still in place and was operating while we were there. The building is now used for storage by the country park which makes interpretation of the rooms a little difficult. Two of the four stairways down to the lower level have been removed. Externally the building is in a rather shabby condition following a fire some years ago.

[Source: Nick Catford

Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford , Robin Ware, Ward Westwater, Caroline Westwater and Dougie O'Hara

Bob Biggart reports:

'I was invited in for a look around, it is in reasonably good shape inside with a number of new walls added and a floor added over the Ops room area. Most of the plant has been stripped out but the AC remains in service (sort of) according to the workers. Externally there has been no maintenance and it has suffered a fire set by vandals some time ago. The old office / room name plates remain under a light coat of paint and the Zone Commissioners office is still visible. I did not see any sign of operational totes which I was told were sent up to Anstruther . A strong smell of weed killer permeates the building and I am told the roof leaks a bit.'

© Subterranea Britannica[1]


1 Subterranea Britannica entry: Torrance House (East Kilbride) - 3 Group, 68 Brigade AAOR serving the Glasgow/Clyde GDA

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