Devon’s gigantic RAF bunker hidden underground

RAF Hope Cove Ground Control Intercept (GCI), often referred to as the ‘bunker’, was first built in 1941.

The bunker is located in East Soar next to the airfield RAF Bolt Head.

The radar station was active from 1941-1945 and was developed, along with RAF Bolt Head, to assist in the tracking and interception of hostile aircraft after they crossed the coast, particularly at night.

But now it’s left empty, and there have been spooky reports of military footsteps heard echoing through the bunker.

Birds eye view of the bunker (Image: Gull Perch)

Jack Nissen, the technician who helped build the station, helped to develop the use of radar and jamming devices which proved effective for D-Day.

Nissen volunteered to go on the Dieppe Raid in 1942 to obtain information about the German Radar on the French coast.

Due to his heroic actions, this was achieved.

Modulator Building

The original Chain Home (CH) radar system was strung out along the coast and the tracks of enemy aircraft were lost as they headed inland.

GCI stations were designed to counter this problem by tracking hostile aircraft as they passed inland and then directing local fighter squadrons to attack the intruders.

WWII RAF Hope Cove GCI is an incredibly deceiving building as, although it looks relatively small from the top it actually spans 33,000 square feet under the ground.

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Chris Howell, who looks after RAF Hope Cove said: ”There are over 60 rooms on two levels.

”It’s semi submerged which means the lower level is underground.’

”The bunker went into ‘care and maintenance’ until 1949 when the Russians nuclear threat became apparent.”

RAF Bolt Head

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In the early 1950s the site was upgraded as part of the ambitious Rotor programme to modernise the UK’s radar defences.

Rotor technical sites comprised radar arrays, a small electrical substation, an operations building, and were linked by roads and tracks.

The station was equipped with a guardhouse designed to resemble a bungalow (since demolished) and a two-storey, semi-sunken R6 operations block.

It was one of five stations equipped with an R6 bunker, the others being at Hack Green, Cheshire; Langtoft, Lincolnshire; Treleaver, Cornwall and one in Wales at St Twynells, Pembrokeshire.

RAF Bolt Head information

The bunker was then active from 1954-58.

The interior of the bunker still boasts original equipment.

In the late 1950s, after a period of use by the RAF, the station at Hope Cove was taken over by the Home Office and the bunker was turned into a Regional Seat of Government (RSG), codenamed Gull Perch.

The station closed in 1947

It later became a Sub-Regional Control, Sub-Regional Headquarters and Regional Government Headquarters under various Home Office schemes.

Surface features surviving at the site include the R6 bunker and a Type 80 radar modulator building.

The GCI is pictured in photographs taken from the air at intervals throughout its development. The site was operational until 1992 and then sold in late 1990s.

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In 2014, it was reported that the bunker was to be auctioned with a £400,000 guide price.

In more recent years there have been claims of the clunking of military boots being heard – as well as the rattling of bars.

The bunker is located in a rural spot

When asked about alleged military footsteps, previous owner Terry Lethbridge jokingly said: ”What happens in the bunker stays in the bunker.”

For further information regarding RAF Hope Cove click here.

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