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06 Oct 2021

From the archives: Worsley New Hall’s Anti-Aircraft Operations Room (AAOR) Bunker

Correspondence held within the Bridgewater Estate Archive which dates from June 1951 refer to the construction of a ‘reinforced concrete building’ by the War Office on the site of Worsley New Hall.  Although the purpose of the building was not stated within this correspondence, further documentary research established that the building was an Anti-Aircraft Operations Room (AAOR).

The bunker which opened in 1952 was part of a network of anti-aircraft operations centres built across Britain and away from major conurbations.  The site at Worsley New Hall formed part of 5 Group which controlled the Manchester Gun Defended Area and was run by 70 Brigade.

The lower story of the bunker was set into the ground and internally the building was dominated by a two-storey plotting room overlooked by a viewing gallery and control cabins from which the staff filtered information from the RAF sector operations centres to the individual gun sites.  The Worsley Bunker thus formed part of the initial development of Britain’s Cold War Defence Strategy. 

On the ground floor were eight reinforced concrete rooms, these included a radio communications room, a safe room, a boiler room, and a central ventilation room.  The first floor comprised six rooms with one corridor running around the edge and a viewing room.

In November 1956, the site was sold by Bridgewater Estates to the Secretary of State for the War Department and was re-used as a Royal Navy food store until 1961, when it was purchased by Salford Corporation and used as a joint area control centre with Lancashire County Council.  After the disbanding of the Civil Defence Corps in 1968 the building was handed over to the Greater Manchester Fire Service. In 1985, they leased the bunker to the Worsley Rifle and Pistol Club who used it as a shooting range.  The club eventually purchased the site in 1998.

When Peel L&P purchased the site in 2000 both entrances to the bunker were blocked and the structure has remained empty ever since.