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Tyne and Wear HER(5035): Kenton, World War Two Underground Operations Room - Details

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Kenton, World War Two Underground Operations Room




Military Headquarters

Underground Military Headquarters




The bunker at Kenton Bar (also known as RAF Blakelaw) was opened in March 1940. Some of its functions were transferred to a new HQ (HQ 14 Group) at Raigmore Inverness in 1941 and its responsibilities were eventually split between Watnell and Raigmore in 1942-43. Until then, it carried the heavy responsibility for Northern air defence. The operations bunker lies in the centre of 'Government Buildings'. Filter Rooms (such as the sister site at Blakelaw (HER 5034) were sites where information on enemy raids detected by the radars was fed. Conflicting reports on such raids were reconciled in the filter room, and then the filtered information was then passed on to Group HQ Operations Rooms (such as the Kenton Bar Bunker), and to the principal fighter airfields, known as sector stations. Acting on the instructions of the regional air defence commander at the Group HQ, sector station commanders would dispatch fighters to intercept the approaching enemy. The part played by Group HQ Operations Rooms was of crucial importance, for there all aspects of regional air defence came together, including reports from the Observer Corps and control of Anti Aircraft guns. HQ 13 Group at Kenton Bar, was responsible for air defence of the entire country from Yorkshire to the Shetland Islands. The Kenton Bar bunker is one of only five of its type in the country and is unique in the North East. The bunker lies beneath part of the DSS complex at Kenton Bar and has two single storey brick access buildings at ground level. Apart from minor vandalism, the interior is essentially intact and unchanged. The plant room containing the air conditioning system is also intact. The Kenton site is of great historical significance. The 13 Group Operations Room was a vital link within the sophisticated air defence system which protected Great Britain from air attack by the German Air Force during the Second World War. At no time was this defensive system more important than in 1940 when the Royal Air Force's victory in the Battle of Britain saved this country from invasion and probable defeat by Nazi Germany. Group Headquarters, such as Kenton Bar, were regional nerve centres where all aspects of raid intelligence came together to be utilised under the direction of fighter squadrons for the interception of hostile enemy aircraft. Kenton Bar is one of only five such command structures built. Of the other four, 10 Group Operations Room at Box in Wiltshire has been converted to offices, 12 Group Operations Room at Watnall, Nottinghamshire is under water, 14 Group Operations Group at Inverness was constructed well after the Battle of Britain and 11 Group Operations Room is in the middle of a serving RAF station, so is not available to public visitors. The Kenton Bar site is in very good condition, even the original paint scheme survives. LISTED GRADE 2




<< HER 5035 >> J. Mabbitt, Tyne and Wear Museums, 2003, Former 13 Group Fighter Command Headquarters, Kenton Bar, Newcastle Archaeological Desk-Based Assessment Pers. Comm. Air Vice-Marshal, A.F.C Hunter, 1994, Letter to Dept of National Heritage D. Hibbert, 1995, Minutes of meeting, 27 July 1995, re Kenton Bar Bunker Pers. Comm. Dr N. Young, Imperial War Museum, 1995, Letter to Air Vice-Marshal Hunter Air Vice-Marshal A.F.C Hunter 1996, Unearthing The Kenton Bar Bunker Defence Lines, No. 5, July 1996 Tyne and Wear Museums & B. Vyner, 1999, The Kenton Bar Bunker Appraisal of heritage value and potential for interpretation A.F.C. Hunter, 2002, Defending Northern Skies, Transcript of paper given to Society Antiquaries, August 28 2002 Kenton Local History Society, 1989, Kenton at War - Civil Defence Arrnagements in Kenton in World War Two C.S. Dobinson, 2000, The Cold War, Twentieth Century Fortifications in England, Vol XI 2, p 260

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