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A few words of warning:

Technological artifacts can be extremely dangerous!

There is a lot of interest in old military structures but it is well to be aware of the dangers that they can present, even to experienced explorers. With old structures there is always the danger of roof falls, floors may give way with out warning and there may be deep unprotected drops. For example, the R2 and R3 Rotor bunkers had a deep pit that housed a Kelvin Hughes Photographic Development Unit (P.D.U.). If you fell down that the consequences could be very grave. Visiting some of these sites requires the skills of an experienced pot holer or caver to negotiate safely. There is a distinct possibility that the air can become foul in unventilated underground installations, only a fool would enter these places without a portable gas and oxygen tester. Flooding, broken glass, sharp edges and asbestos are other hazards that might be encountered. Even above ground there is the danger of unseen subsidence and the risk of breaking through in to a deep hole or chamber. There is also the possibility, however remote, that electrical cables might still be live, some of the voltages used in these installations were measured in kiloVolts (kV).

Never enter these structures alone, always leave at least one person outside who can get help if you get in to difficulties and always ensure that someone knows where you are - leave a plan of your activity with a trusted person and arrange to call them when you are clear. If they do not hear from you they can then alert the authorities.

Access to these sites also poses problems and because of the dangers involved many site owners refuse unfettered access and are heartily fed up with the repeated requests they receive. The military are still very sensitive about their sites, even if they do appear to be unused. Unauthorized access is not only dangerous, it might be against the law and it hinders serious authorised archaeological investigations.

The dangers are not just confined to structures. Machinery and equipment can also present serious hazards. To illustrate the point, a few years ago a number of Hunting Jet Provost jet aircraft came on to the open market. In one case the new owner/pilot rolled the aircraft and his passenger's de-activated ejection seat promptly ran up its rails and smashed through the canopy, throwing the seat, complete with occupant, out of the aircraft. The sites of aircraft crashes are usually well cleared, however it is not unknown for munitions to be missed. Always dangerous, these munitions can become very unstable over time. One should also be aware that the sites of many crashed aircraft and sunken ships are officially listed as War Graves and must not be disturbed under any circumstances.

It is a lot safer and often more interesting and informative to visit museums and sites that have been adapted for visits by the public. "Scotland's Secret Bunker" is one such example and there are several others around the UK.

Dick Barrett 

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