Thursday, 13 April 2017

The pagodas of a war most private

Suffolk Stories  . . 

Pagodas on the beach

Having since 1930, provided successive War Ministries with excellent proving grounds for all manner of weaponry, Orford Ness was an easy choice for the hush-hush testing of cold-war confections.

The average nuclear missile is, in most part, packed with conventional explosive. Proportionate to the actual nuclear bits, the amount required to make sure the bomb does it job is considerable.

The Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) was responsible for the design, manufacture and support of warheads for the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent. Busy beavers, and from the 1950s through to 1970s huge laboratories where build and used to scrupulously measure the efficiency of various explosive formulations. 

Laboratories 4 and 5 take on the appearance of pagodas. Concrete pillars support their roofs. In the event of a REALLY BIG EXPLOSION, unplanned for, the blast’s thrust would travel upward and easily lifting and escaping through the roof!

We went inside Lab 4. And although stripped of all its equipment (the MOD sold off everything for scrap) the place resembles a great white tiled cathedral. The unceasing wind plays a chorale though its nave and chancel.

FOOTNOTE We were exploring around Orford Ness and Aldeburgh, with special friends Jane and Trevor, staying in a wonderful Martello Tower which they had rented to celebrate T’s birthday. 

Trevor appears several times in this blog in the ‘Travel’s with my Architect’ posts.

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Thank you very much for your comments - Tim