RAF Rudloe Manor

Coordinates: 51°25′14.28″N 2°13′0.70″W / 51.4206333°N 2.2168611°W / 51.4206333; -2.2168611
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RAF Rudloe Manor
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Corsham, Wiltshire, England
Rudloe Manor main house
RAF Rudloe Manor.jpg
Rudloe Manor is located in Wiltshire
Rudloe Manor
Rudloe Manor
Shown within Wiltshire
Coordinates51°25′14.28″N 2°13′0.70″W / 51.4206333°N 2.2168611°W / 51.4206333; -2.2168611
Site information
OwnerPrivate, Military
Open to
the public
Site history
In use1939–2000 (2000)
Battles/warsSecond World War
Garrison information
OccupantsNo. 10 Group RAF

RAF Rudloe Manor, formerly RAF Box, was a Royal Air Force station located north-east of Bath, England, between the settlements of Box and Corsham, in Wiltshire. It was one of several military installations situated in the area and covered three dispersed sites. The sites are now used by Defence Digital.


The station was established on top of quarries from which Bath Stone had been extracted. In the 1930s some of the tunnels had been converted for use as a Central Ammunition Depot. The vast caverns had some 2,250,000 square feet (209,000 m2) of space, divided into many smaller chambers.[1]

During the Second World War, the Operations Centre of No. 10 Group RAF was housed there in three buildings (Operations Room, Filter Room and Communications Centre), which were partially buried for protection, in a similar way to buildings for No. 9 Group at RAF Barton Hall, No. 11 Group RAF at RAF Uxbridge, No. 12 Group RAF at RAF Watnall, No. 13 Group RAF at RAF Newcastle and No. 14 Group RAF at Raigmore House in Inverness.[2]

Operations room[edit]

The Rudloe Manor operations room in use in 1943

The operations room, responsible for directing RAF aircraft in the No. 10 Group area, was initially established in a block adjacent to the manor house in June 1940. The area covered by No. 10 Group encompassed South West England and South Wales.[3] Later in the year the operations room was relocated into the north end of an underground bunker in Browns Quarry.[4] The operations room became disused in May 1945 when No. 10 Group was disbanded.[4]

Filter room[edit]

The Filter Room, responsible for filtering large quantities of intelligence on enemy activity before it was passed to the operations room, was located in the south end of the underground bunker in Browns Quarry and became operational in 1940.[4] The filter room became disused in May 1945 when No. 10 Group was disbanded.[4] Eileen Younghusband, who served in various filter rooms, recounted her experiences at Rudloe Manor in her 2011 memoir, "One Woman's War".[5]

The Communications centre was located in the west part of the underground bunker in Browns Quarry.[6] The members of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force who staffed the underground bunker were billeted at nearby Hartham Park.[7]

RAF units using the site were:

Unit Dates Notes
No. 10 (Fighter) Group RAF 1940–1945 Responsible for the defence of Plymouth and other south west ports, also naval dockyards and channel convoys[8]
Fighter Command Control and Reporting School RAF 1945–1948 [9]
Headquarters Southern Sector RAF 1950–1957 [10]
No. 81 (Training) Group RAF 1952–1958 Fighter Command training group[11]
No. 24 (Training) Group RAF 1958–1973 Part of Training Command, later Technical Training Command; controlled all schools of technical training[12]

RAF Rudloe Manor is known as "Britain's Area 51" since declassified secret files released at the National Archives indicated the site was the centre for UFO investigations in the 1950s.[13]

The wider site continued as both a communications hub and home of various administrative units. No.1 Signals Unit was established to manage all UK terrestrial communications infrastructure for the RAF. With the launch of the UK Satellite Communications System, Skynet, in the late 1960s, the site of Controller Defence Communications Network (CDCN) was established. A spacecraft operations centre was established by 1001 Signals Unit, the spacecraft operations organisation, on a small enclave within the site, known as Hawthorn.[14]

The headquarters of the RAF Provost and Security Service (P&SS) was established nearby, although on the closure of the station it moved to RAF Henlow.[1]

RAF Rudloe Manor was the location of Headquarters Southern Area Royal Observer Corps (ROC) from 1952 until 1980, when it was relocated to Lansdown near Bath. Co-located with the ROC was Headquarters Southern Sector United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation, responsible for the now-defunct four-minute warning in the event of nuclear attack during the Cold War.[2]

The manor house, built in the late 17th century, was designated as Grade II* listed in 1985.[15]

The site was adjacent to Basil Hill Barracks, the Headquarters of No. 2 Signal Brigade, HMS Royal Arthur and the Royal Naval Stores Depot (RNSD) Copenacre.[16]

The RAF station was closed in 2000, with the Defence Communication Services Agency (DCSA) taking responsibility for the sites,[17] subsequently reorganising into the Information Systems & Services cluster in 2008,[18] and Defence Digital in 2019.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "MoD Corsham". Nettleden. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Site Name: RAF Rudloe Manor No 1 Site – WW2 10 Group Operations Block & ROC/UKWMO Southern Sector Control". Subterranea Britannica. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Browns Quarry history". Nettleden. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d "A Characterisation Study of the quarries, their 20th-century defence uses and related above-ground infrastructure" (PDF). Joint Support Unit (JSU), Corsham. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  5. ^ Younghusband, Eileen (2011). One Woman's War. Cardiff Bay: Candy Jar Books. Archived from the original on 22 December 2021.
  6. ^ McCamley, Nick (2002). Cold War Secret Nuclear Bunkers: The Passive Defence of the Western World During the Cold War. Pen & Sword Military Classics. p. 99. ISBN 978-1844155088.
  7. ^ "History of Hartham Park". Jack's Restaurant & Bar. Retrieved 1 September 2010.
  8. ^ Sturtivant 2007, p. 149
  9. ^ Sturtivant 2007, p. 112
  10. ^ Sturtivant 2007, p. 254
  11. ^ Sturtivant 2007, p. 152
  12. ^ Sturtivant 2007, p. 150
  13. ^ "Churchill ordered UFO cover-up, National Archives show". BBC News. 5 August 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  14. ^ "Defence: Rudloe Manor: Column:259". Hansard. House of Commons. 2 July 1998. Retrieved 2 April 2011.
  15. ^ Historic England. "Rudloe Manor (1022808)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  16. ^ "Joint Services Corsham Copenacre". Pastscape. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  17. ^ "Visit to MOD Corsham: New Environment Project". Association for Project Management. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  18. ^ "Defence Public Key Infrastructure" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. p. 3. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  • Sturtivant, Ray (2007). RAF Flying Training and Support Units since 1912. Air-Britain. ISBN 978-0-85130-365-9.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]