Dorchester ROC, Dorset

Situated on the ancient Poundbury Hillfort, the Dorchester Royal Observer Corps (ROC) monitoring post has sat and taunted with its hatch securely barred shut & welded for more than a decade. Recently a lead appeared on 28dayslater noting that the bars had been cut and the post open. It was time to take a look.

Dorchester ROC bunker
Dorchester ROC bunker

After clearing the hatch opening of some of the biggest spiders I’ve ever seen (I’m not proud, I hate them!) we descended in to the bunker. I was pleasantly surprised by the state of the bunker. Most ROC bunkers I have been in are either burnt out, used as drug dens, or both!

Some nice features remain, an (unused!) chemical toilet, boxes and mattresses stamped with the date 1959, but mostly, signs and paperwork. The Royal Observer Corps members, situated in 1,563 bunkers throughout the UK were tasked with detecting, tracking and reporting aircraft over Britain and with the threat of nuclear war the ROC would have been responsible for giving the UK public the infamous “four-minute warning” and monitoring any possible fallout from a nuclear attack. The ROC posts were approximately 7-8 miles apart and would report to a Group HQ. Dorchester’s group headquarters was in Yeovil (now demolished) and there are reminders of such with the Yeovil telephone number colourfully drawn on a piece of paper like a school child’s art project, they must have got bored down there!

I’m glad I finally got to see inside Dorchester ROC, and hopefully this newly opened bunker won’t succumb to mindless vandalism & theft like so many before it.

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Important, noteworthy & interesting comments are highlighted below

  1. Michael Ney says:

    I served in the Special Constabulary in the early 1970s and we had the “four minute warning ” repeater in the Police Office, it was checked regularly and went “bleep bleep” all the time if you left it on. If it went to a continuous tone, that was the “Take Cover” signal.

    1. Thomas Steckler says:

      Dear Michael,

      My name is Thomas Steckler and I am currently at university in the process of planning a Photo-Journalism based documentary for our course. Our main idea for our documentary will be based on Abandoned Locations with the viewing platform of VR and we are hoping to be able to film in Dorchester ROC as one of our possible locations.

      We are looking towards people to interview as part of the documentary to share more insight into the location’s past, why it was abandoned, what experiences people had there, what it was like to work there if relevant etc. Is there any possibility you would be willing to help us with this whether it’s through a written interview or more preferably a recorded message for us or depending on location if we could film an interview with you? My email address is:

      We look forward to hearing back from you.

      Kind regards,

  2. Stacey Humpo says:

    Bad news for us explorers. It has a big metal plate on top and to add to this it’s bolted and welded shut. Hope one day this will change…

    1. Antony says:

      Heard that it is open now any chance you could send me the location?

  3. Stacey Humpo says:

    Thanks for reply. We managed to find Upton Fort… great explore to find it. When got there we asked people who live there if we could take a look around to respect their property but unfortunately we wasn’t allowed. So sorry guys but that’s a no go. We are in process of going ROC so will hopefully bring you all good news maybe?!

  4. Stacey Humpo says:

    Hiya. Was wondering if you know of recent access to this and me and partner down here on holiday and we explore alot.. also if you could give us email to people regarding Upton Fort would be amazeballs. Love the site, always have. Thanku :)

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      No idea on access to the ROC – I would assume it’s still sealed up tight. If you send me an e-mail I can give you the Upton Fort address.

  5. Jay Minty says:

    Hi all,

    This post has been welded shut, barred and locked since approximately 2001 as when I went down there were some newspapers dated at that year, and then broken into a few months ago. As mentioned in the comments whoever did open the post certainly has made a lot of noise! The steel bars that were welded across and set in concrete must have been cut with an angle grinder at the very least and the lock bar was forced with a crow bar and just chucked aside! After these photos were taken there have been a few, non urbex visitors who threw a few boxes about and stamped on the can of glitto. The Post is on land currently owned by the duchy of Cornwall and they have welded it up again as it presents a health and safety risk to the local kids who like finding 12ft ladders to fall down. However myself and a team of other Urbexers have bern engaged in active discussions with a local town councillor the Duchy and a local museum to investigate the posibilty of restoring the post or at the very least tidying it up and maintaning it. Explore safe guys.


    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      It’s a shame these places get abused, it’s a nice bunker, one of the best I’ve seen.

      Good luck with the negotiations!

    2. Ashley Smith says:

      Hi Jay,

      Best wishes on the negotiations – I managed to have a look at this post last summer and found its condition to be excellent in comparison to most other ROC posts these days. I did think it would make an ideal one for restoration, especially as its location is rather accessible too, from the point of view of potential open days.


      1. Ashley Smith says:

        …Oh and I’d certainly like to get involved in the project if it does take off.

        1. Jay Minty says:

          Hi Ashley if you comment an email address I can keep you updated as to the situation of the restoration, at present it doesnt look particulary hopeful though.


          1. The Urban Explorer says:

            I wouldn’t mind being kept in that loop too. Who are you talking to?

            1. Jay says:

              I have been talking to a local Councillor about it, he has then been in contact with the Duchy and from there the local military museum. At present there seems to be little development and they are happy to keep it locked. Luckily the Duchy recognise the historical importance and are quite content to keep the site, locked and welded of course.


          2. Ashley Smith says:

            Thanks Jay,

            Any updates would be appreciated.

            My email is ajsmith11 AT

            1. Jay says:

              Thanks, will keep you updated.

  6. Zaka Gibbard says:

    I visited this ROC post in 2012 and it was certainly welded closed then. Lucky to catch it ‘open’!!

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      I believe it’s been welded shut since it closed in 1991. Whoever “opened” it would have made A LOT of noise I’m sure.

  7. Kieren Parsons says:

    Tried to visit this place today but unfortunately the entrance was welded shut! From the looks of the research I’ve conducted on this R.O.C however this place seems to go through it’s periods of being open or closed. I guess it’s all about trying to get there at the right time…

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Like with every location mate, timing is everything!

  8. Will Vine says:

    Interesting stuff, but I think I’ve found a mistake on the Nuclear Monitoring Posts map.

    The site listed as Wickhampton is actually in Witchampton? Maybe it had a different name or has been misspelt?

    I found into on the ROC site because I was looking for info on the papermill that used to be at Witchampton, did a recce there years ago, but when I went again with a camera it was a housing estate.

    1. Jack Ryan says:

      Hi, this is indeed Wichampton. The post is actually located in a field just off the road on the south side of Woodcutts Lane which runs east from the B3078 between Wimborne and Cranborne, it’s nowhere near the old paper mill site or the new housing. It’s very overgrown now and welded shut but I did enter it a few years ago when both the post and compound were in excellent condition.

  9. Andrew says:

    There was one of these on top of the hill from where I grew up… Exact same with what appear to be filtration intakes in a similar configuration. “The bombshelter” we called it, you could get down inside and there was nothing but rusty beds and dead sheep down there. Touched my first boob next to the hatch too! The memories! Heh heh… Nice to see one in such great condition! And to find out exactly what these things are. Thanks!

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Hahaha! That’s priceless! Thanks for the comment. Who says romance is dead! Have you revisited the bunker recently? You may be able to find its current condition here:

      1. Andrew says:

        Thanks for the link … Yep seascale is on there! Photos too!! Hasn’t changed in 25 years … Not one bit! Also I see there’s one about a mile away from where i live now so going to check it out tomo :-)

  10. skinny fox. says:

    Hi all. Being ex-military, these appeal to me greatly. I did a bit of googling, and came up with this from wiki pedia. It’s a list of all ROC’s and the OS grid refs. If it has already been posted, please feel free to delete this comment

  11. Ashley Smith says:

    Hi Adam,

    It was good to see the inside of this post, and one in such fine condition. I’ve been informed that the owners are to inspect the post and look into welding the hatch, to provide better security. At least this way it will be saved from the inevitable mindless vandalism.

    1. Well that’s a shame. It’d be nice if there was a happy medium between open and welded shut!

  12. Harry says:

    A great story, with lovely photographs!

    I usually go up to one of my Grandma’s houses up at a place called Lockton, near Malton in North Yorkshire. I was walking my dog and I discovered one of these with a little building overground as well. It is accessable but I wouldnt dare go down ahaha.

    1. You should, Harry!

      Although… I’ve just found this report which doesn’t really look too promising! Haha!

      1. Harry says:

        Thats a shame!
        I hate it when people do this, it’s very ignorant.
        It looks like that review was done a while back as now it’s fenced off, but you can still get to it. I found a rotting sheeps body trapped in the little overground building.
        Thanks for the reply!

  13. Garry Collins says:

    Another superb one Adam.. Always knew it was there but never found the entrance…

    1. Tom Baker says:

      Hey Garry, me and my friend found a bunker almost identical to this one in Mepal (Cambridgeshire) we think it used to be part of a RAF base in WW2, but we cant find any info on it as it was a secret base. pretty interesting though!

      1. If it was identical to this, then I would assume you found another ROC. There’s a map on Subbrit which shows the locations. Is your find on here?

      2. Billy Collins says:

        Tom, I believe this would have been the Sutton ROC post. There’s some info and a few photos in the below link:

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