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Spooks Among Us - A very interesting website, especially for those in UK - Printable Version

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Spooks Among Us - A very interesting website, especially for those in UK - Peter Lemkin - 20-07-2022

https://www.secret-bases.co.uk/secret.htm

Someone has done their homework! Something similar for the USA and all other countries would be welcome.

Here is a small part... [the missing photos ARE ON the website, but it is constructed so they can not be cut and pasted].

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]"Secret Base" locations revealed – Part 1 of 5[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Thank you for visiting Part 1 of www.secret-bases.co.uk. Once you've finished browsing this first part, all you need to do is click on buttons at the bottom of this page to move on to the other parts. Please note that this website requires a modern JavaScript enabled browser in order to work properly.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Introduction[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]What makes a "Secret Base" [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]secret[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]? By "base", I mean those British Government installations or military sites you've seen surrounded by razor wire fences and guarded by [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Ministry of Defence (MoD) police[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]. How on earth can these sites be secret? The UK Government hasn't (yet) developed stealth technology in the visible range of the electromagnetic spectrum. So they can't very well make, say, Faslane nuclear submarine base (pictured below) suddenly disappear as you come around the corner.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Having said that, in October 2007, the Sun newspaper revealed in an [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]exclusive story[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] that boffins at the Government's research wing QinetiQ had got together with Professor John Pendry's theoretical physics team at Imperial College, London to develop Harry Potter style "invisibility cloaks" for military equipment such as tanks.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]As revealed back in May 2006, in scientific journals [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]New Scientist[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] and [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Physics World[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif], the technology involves the development of special composite "metamaterials". They have very unusual refractive properties that alter the propagation of light beams. It is thought that the latest top secret research is being carried out on behalf of the MoD at QinetiQ's Nanomaterials Division at Farnborough, Hampshire.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: martin-furnival-jones.jpg][/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Sir Martin Furnival Jones
MI5 DG 1965 – 1972
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]No, it's actually much simpler than all that. A Government laboratory or military base can be made to "disappear" by just deleting it from Ordnance Survey (OS) maps. But how? Well, you need to appreciate that OS is essentially a Government agency within the MoD. Just look-up the derivation of the word "ordnance" and all will become clear. It means "military equipment, artillery and provisions".

Apart from straightforward deletion, another classic sign of "tampering" to look for on OS maps is the use of the rather uninformative labels "Works" or "Depot". This is sometimes an indication that a site has important Government and/or military activities. But why? Throughout the late 1960s, Sir Martin Furnival Jones, Director General of MI5 (the Security Service) during the Cold War, insisted that all sensitive sites be labelled on maps in this way, so their true strategic role would be concealed from potential enemy agents.

All inclusions on OS maps were once vetted by the UK Government's D-Notice Committee. You may have heard of this before. When the Government wanted to "gag" newspaper editors to stop them revealing embarrassing details about MoD-related stories, it was called "slapping a D-Notice" on them. Any locations on the "Sensitive Sites Register" were mysteriously removed from public maps by men in cigar smoke filled rooms in Whitehall and just ended up appearing as farmers' fields.
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Sometimes misleading labels on Ordnance Survey maps are good old fashioned foul-ups. Like the map of Stockport Grammar School in my home town. It was corrected in 2018.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Other times, you wonder whether OS map compilers are just mischieviously messing about when you see road names [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Bell End[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] and [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Mincing Lane[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] – right next to each other in the same town. A further inspection at Google Street View level reveals all. The OS maps are accurate and both street names are very old. There's always a warm welcome at the Christian Heritage Centre in the Bell End Providence Chapel – erected 1875.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: stockport-grammar.jpg]Ordnance Survey's map makers up to their old tricks? The grammar school in my home town of Stockport, Cheshire got an unwelcome makeover, but this time it was nothing to do with MI5. It was eventually corrected in 2018.[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: bell-end.jpg]Bell End and Mincing Lane? Next to each other? Really?
OS map turns out to be accurate at Rowley Regis in the West Midlands

Google Street View of Bell End and Google Street View of Mincing Lane
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]In February 2004, the Secretary of the D-Notice Committee, Rear Admiral Nick Wilkinson, contacted me to assure me that things have changed for the better and that the system has been overhauled in recent years. With the introduction of Internet-based mapping and aerial photography data, he insisted that the Committee is now an independent and purely advisory body. It was to be known as the Defence, Press and Broadcasting Advisory Committee (DPBAC) and the D-Notices more correctly referred to as Defence Advisory (DA-Notices), as described in Nick Wilkinson's history book Secrecy and the Media published in 2009. It was renamed again in 2015, to the Defence and Security Media Advisory (DSMA) Committee, with the DA Notices renamed accordingly DSMA Notices.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: kgb-maps.png][/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: web-page13.png][/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Alerted to the issues highlighted on this website, Mr. Wilkinson told me that Ordnance Survey's removal of MoD-related sites from their maps is no longer appropriate in today's Internet climate. He assured me that the fact that they still show sensitive sites as empty fields is because of the time lag between Ordnance Survey becoming aware of the new policy and their publication of new editions of the maps, rather than any sinister Government involvement.

Indeed, the high resolution aerial photography of Britain's "Secret Bases", offered for sale on the Internet by Getmapping plc, was cleared by Mr. Wilkinson. Even so, various defence analysts raised concerns, as detailed in a BBC News article. Getmapping's co-founder and MD, Tristram Cary, is a former Royal Navy officer and software project director in the defence industry.

In February 2007, the Landmark Group mapping company revealed that it had acquired top secret Russian military maps of UK Secret Bases. They had been compiled by the KGB throughout the Cold War years, from 1950 right up to 1997, using their own satellite imagery, making all the fuss somewhat pointless after all.

In June 2007, in a major update to Google Earth's UK imagery, most of the locations featured on this website became available at high resolution. In December 2007, new hi-res aerial imagery was provided by Getmapping which covers the area around Faslane. Check out my special implementation of Microsoft Virtual Earth, which allows you to zoom in close-up to the Trident Missile Storage Bunkers, warhead handling facilities and much more.
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: raf-sinderland.jpg]A Russian KGB map from 1975 showing the old wartime RAF munitions dump at Dairyhouse Farm, Sinderland, Broadheath near Altrincham, Cheshire. The buildings to the lower right are the Atlantic Street Industrial Estate
www.old-maps.co.uk
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: HMNB-faslane.jpg]Her Majesty's Naval Base, HMNB Clyde, Faslane nuclear submarine base
Google Street View
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: bacton-gas-terminal.jpg]Critical National Infrastructure: a Ministry of Defence Police patrol vehicle monitors traffic outside [b]Bacton Gas Terminal on the Norfolk coast
Google Street View[/b][/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: gchq-hair-designers.jpg]Not-So-Critical National Infrastructure: spies need a good haircut for a disguise. GCHQ Hair Designers in Brockholes near Holmfirth, West Yorkshire
Google Street View
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: gchq-bury.jpg]Spooks throwing shapes? Former GCHQ Nightclub, Bury, Lancashire in 2014
Google Street View
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]In "Secret Bases", [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]www.secret-bases.co.uk[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif], I make use of these [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Internet research tools[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] to take you on a fascinating tour of Secret Britain:-[/font] [font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Perhaps you would also like to try my other web pages by visiting my home page at:-[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Media coverage and contact details[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]I have provided a resumé of my media appearances and press coverage of my "Secret Bases" website in my [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Media Centre[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]. You will also find full details on how to contact me for contributions, research assistance requests and media enquiries.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] 
Media Centre
 
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Map link options
Upon hitting the "GO" button below, this page will be refreshed with the new map link options you have chosen (or the default ones, if you first use the RESET button). PRIVACY: If you have enabled "cookies" on your browser, the new settings will also be saved on your computer and will be retrieved when you access this page again. Furthermore, as you navigate between the five parts of the "Secret Bases" website, your map link option settings will be preserved. The "cookie" only contains your map preferences – nothing else. It is just a temporary "current session" cookie and is deleted automatically when you close your browser. For full documentation on the map link options available just click on my Research Tools Page button also below.

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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Map link source:

Bing Maps (OS 1:50K)Bing Maps (OS 1:25K)Streetmap (OS 1:50K)Streetmap (OS 1:25K)Streetmap (OS 1:2500)Getmapping aerial photo (close-up)Getmapping aerial photo (wide)Google Maps aerial photoBing Maps aerial photo



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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][/url][/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]There are some classic signs to look for on OS maps, when trying to find MoD related sites. You might see buildings which are geometrically shaped, like the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) and Warship Support Agency (WSA) at [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Abbey Wood in Bristol.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Some are made easy by actually labelling them "Government Offices" like the Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) near Bath, on the site of an old country estate at [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Ensleigh and also at [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Fox Hill. Of course, not all "Government Buildings" are "Secret Bases". Many buildings labelled in this way are merely administration offices. Since a major restructuring in April 2007, DPA, WSA and DLO have been known as Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S).[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]The two [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] spy centre sites in Cheltenham at [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Benhall and [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Oakley don't at first stick out when viewed at 1:50000 scale. View Multimap's aerial photograph of GCHQ Benhall and notice the field just to the west of the main buildings. This is where the brand new GCHQ Doughnut complex has been built.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Following the Doughnut construction at the Benhall site, most of the Oakley site has been demolished and the land has been handed over to a supermarket chain and housing development company. The old parts of the Benhall location have also been cleared and given over to the provision of additional car parking for the Doughnut and for housing development. The remaining GCHQ buildings at Oakley have since been officially known as the GCHQ Harp Hill site, after a nearby road.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Until Summer 2006, if you viewed [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]GCHQ Benhall and [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]GCHQ Oakley at 1:25000, the old facilities suddenly emerged as geometrically shaped buildings and were labelled "Government Offices". These more detailed 1:25000 OS maps have now finally been updated to reflect all of the demolition work and the new GCHQ Doughnut now makes an appearance. In March 2007, the GCHQ Doughnut finally made it to hi-res on Google Earth too. A comparison of aerial photography from different years also reveals that DE&S Fox Hill has now been fully demolished. A similar comparison at DE&S Ensleigh shows that around half of that site has gone.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]GCHQ's new research facility hidden in a forest[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: birdlip-dogging.jpg][/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Another Birdlip Secret Base
BBC News
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]In January 2007, a proposal for a brand new GCHQ "research and development" installation at the existing Birdlip Radio Station on top of Shab Hill, Gloucestershire, was finally thrown out by Cotswold District Council's planning department after an appeal by GCHQ to the Planning Inspectorate was dismissed. The council wanted to protect the nature of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), of which the residents around Barrow Wake Viewpoint are so doggedly proud.

The planning application had originally been lodged precisely one year earlier in January 2006 and the project involved the erection of additional tall lattice communications towers, including one with a huge "golf ball" radome on top. It would have been identical to the one already installed in a special enclosure on the west side of Birmingham International Airport, but which is merely used for ground radar (seen in a Bird's Eye aerial photo).

Likewise, a quite innocent explanation can be found for an identical tower and radome found hidden in Civiley Wood at Friningham near Detling and Thurnham, close to Maidstone in Kent. Rather than another GCHQ test facility, it is the Met Office's latest doppler effect weather radar officially opened in October 2005.

Admittedly, adding to the intrigue is the curious location just a few hundred yards away from the legendary Cold Blow Lane NATO and WWII ACE High communications facility near Coldblow Farm.
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]The Birdlip signals station is in a perfect strategic position, in a direct line of sight with the GCHQ Doughnut at Benhall, a few miles away. It has actually been used for various communications purposes since WWII, but the original wartime masts in the surrounding fields have long since gone, leaving only their rusted anchoring points in the ground. Significantly, it is also very close to another relic from World War Two (and indeed the Cold War) – the famous hardened bunker at [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Ullenwood, a former Anti Aircraft Operations Room (AAOR), Civil Defence Training Centre and Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ). The planning application had been made on behalf of GCHQ by Cheltenham-based global communications infrastructure consultants Alan Dick and Company Limited.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]More recent users of the Shab Hill facility have included the Civil Aviation Authority (Air Traffic Control), National Grid Wireless (mobile network infrastructure providers – now part of Arqiva) and OFCOM (the Government's monitoring watchdog for general communications).[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]How intriguing it is to discover that one of the mobile network operators already using the Birdlip facility – O2 – has been awarded the Government contract to provide a Ground Based Network Resilience (GBNR) enhancement known as the National Fallback Service (NFS) to [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Airwave[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]. Airwave is the new encrypted secure digital radio system for all emergency services, which uses Motorola's Terrestrial Trunked Radio ([/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]TETRA[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] [PDF, 3MB]) technology. It is part of the Government's [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Critical National Infrastructure (CNI)[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif].[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]The GBNR / NFS enhancement – due for delivery in Autumn 2007 – was requested after recommendations arising from the various communications failures at the time of the July 2005 London bus and underground tube train bombings. The original Airwave project was commissioned through the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO), which became part of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) in April 2007.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]O2 Airwave Limited applied to Cotswold Council in June 2006 for the addition of two extra communications dishes and associated control equipment on one of the lattice towers already on site at Birdlip. The initial request was for one 0.3m diameter dish and one 0.6m dish. Curiously, the request was later amended to two dishes both 0.3m in diameter. The O2 Airwave application was successful.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: birdlip-plans.jpg][/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]New GCHQ Facility Revealed
Edgehills Radio Station,
Mitcheldean, Forest of Dean
[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]It would seem that GCHQ would legitimately require a connection into Airwave at Birdlip in order to provide the emergency "MACA" role – Military Aid to Civilian Authorities. But was GCHQ's so-called "experimental, testing, research and development" facility at Birdlip going to be wired into the O2 Airwave system for further purposes too?

Do you remember another "experimental" communications site for "research" in the 1990s? It was known as the Capenhurst Tower and the story surrounding that sent political shock waves around the world.

Was their cunning plan at Birdlip scuppered by a brave decision by Cotswold Council? Would GCHQ go to the High Court for a further appeal and risk even more details getting out into the public domain? Would they perhaps consider the famous sites of microwave towers and communications masts at Cleeve Hill and Churchdown Hill both near Cheltenham and at Bredon Hill near Evesham, Worcestershire?

Instead, they found another location – and a different more compliant council. In Summer 2008, GCHQ finally got permission for a pair of towers to be hidden in the Forest of Dean close to the various existing microwave, radio and TV communication towers at Little Dean Walk within Edgehills Plantation, Plump Hill near Mitcheldean.
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]The [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]GCHQ Edgehills facility comprises a long narrow forest clearing with a northern tower and southern tower, only one of which will have a radome fixed to the top. In April 2010, [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]new aerial photography[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] became available which reveals the GCHQ towers at Edgehills.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]In June 2007, Airwave applied to Dartmoor National Park Authority to establish a mast on farmland near [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Widecombe-in-the-Moor but the Authority resisted until October 2008 when they suddenly pulled out of the appeal process after Airwave presented hundreds of extra pages of evidence just days before the deadline. The planning consultant representing Airwave in their appeal at Widecombe – Ian Waterson of Town Planning Solutions Ltd, Telford – also worked on getting the GCHQ Edgehills project accepted by Forest of Dean Council.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Read the amazingly detailed documents forming all the separate GCHQ and O2 Airwave planning applications at Birdlip, Edgehills and Dartmoor – including correspondence, technical drawings, photos and diagrams – gathered all together here in a new special Secret Bases page (above right).[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]In Summer 2008, the Gloucestershire Echo newspaper carried a story developed from a letter sent in from an elderly former Forest of Dean District Councillor – also at one time a member of the Royal Signals. He was convinced of a top secret CIA base within the forest and even a sinister underground facility in the area. The news headline screamed, "Has the Pentagon built a secret spy bunker in Gloucestershire?"[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Amazingly, the old chap wasn't that far from the truth, even though he'd got carried away with the fine detail. It is obviously the new GCHQ test station at Edgehills he means. As for the bunker, look no further than a huge ultra-secure and ultra-secretive [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]underground computer data server centre at Mitcheldean, on the north side of the Vantage Point Business Village – an industrial estate on the old Rank Xerox factory site.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Rather than CIA, it is run by the global computer services corporation EDS – who just happen to have some very sensitive and lucrative contracts with the UK Government including the MoD, HMRC (formerly Inland Revenue and Customs) and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Transport for London's Oyster Card ticketing system is managed through EDS Mitcheldean's servers too. Since 2008, EDS has been owned by that Government contract stalwart Hewlett Packard (HP).[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]The EDS Data Centre was embroiled in yet another of those now regular data loss scandals in September 2008 when it was finally admitted that a 500GB portable external hard drive was mislaid in July 2007, whilst being sent from there to another key [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]EDS base within Government Buildings housing DWP at Washington, Tyne and Wear. Unfortunately it contained personal details of over 5000 HMP staff including prison officers. To make matters even worse, the loss was not reported for a full year.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]The [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]EDS blunders[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] continued in October 2008. A routine audit reported another portable hard drive – used for around 100,000 Army, Royal Navy and RAF personnel and up to 600,000 Armed Services recruitment records – was missing from yet another supposedly "secure" EDS location on the [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Bartley Wood Business Park alongside the M3 motorway at Hook near Basingstoke, Hampshire. A later [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]statement made in Parliament[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] revealed that the actual number of potential recruits' details compromised was nearer 1.7 million.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Consider also the [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]EDS Data Centre at Wynyard, Billingham on Teesside, the location of the former Samsung monitor and microwave factory. This former distribution warehouse has been converted to state of the art low energy data processing server halls. Projects running through the building include highly sensitive contracts for DWP, Centrica and the Ministry of Justice. Next door, Cleveland Police's Roads Policing Unit keeps one eye on the perimeter.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]While the Hook base is UK HQ of EDS Defence, the Central Stores and Engineering Services Group (ESG) is located at [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Ashchurch Business Centre near Tewkesbury back in Gloucestershire, next to the M5. That is where military computer systems are designed, developed, assembled and tested. Meanwhile, EDS have yet more "secure" operations based within the [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]HMRC Data Centre in Telford, Shropshire and the DWP's [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Peel Park Control Centre in Blackpool, Lancashire.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: gchq-edgehills.jpg][/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: edgehills-map.png][/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]The location for GCHQ's new test and development facility for trialling new interception and communications equipment. Hidden in a clearing within the Forest of Dean at Little Dean Walk, Edgehills Radio Station, Plump Hill, near Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire
Aerial photography Getmapping / Intermap
Original mapping data www.magic.gov.uk
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: gchq-edgehill-tower.jpg]GCHQ Edgehills radome tower in the Forest of Dean near Mitcheldean[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: eds-bunker.jpg]EDS Data Centre bunker at Vantage Point Business Village, Mitcheldean, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: mitcheldean-comparison.jpg]EDS Data Centre bunker (top in each picture) at Mitcheldean. Spot the difference. OS maps catch up with the aerial photography
Map images generated from the Get-a-map service
with permission of Ordnance Survey
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: eds-wynyard.jpg]Looking east across EDS Data Centre (middle) at Wynyard Business Park, Billingham, Teesside with Clipper Logistics distribution warehouse and the A19 in the background and Cleveland Police's Roads Policing Unit in the foreground[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: thurnham.jpg]Bird's Eye view looking west across GCHQ's Maidstone Test Facility in Kent? No. Just Thurnham Doppler Weather Radar Station for the Met Office
Bing Bird's Eye
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: thurnham-radar.jpg]Thurnham Doppler Weather Radar Station
Photo: Graham Upton / University of Essex
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: birdlip-tower.jpg]An existing tower at Birdlip Radio Station, Shab Hill, Gloucestershire
Photo: "mjt1410" at www.webshots.com
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: abbey-wood.jpg]Aerial view of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Abbey Wood, Bristol[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: ensleigh-birdseye.jpg]Bird's Eye view of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Ensleigh near Bath
Bing Bird's Eye
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: fox-hill-birdseye.jpg]Bird's Eye view of Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Fox Hill near Bath
Bing Bird's Eye
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: fox-hill-2013-2014.jpg]Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Fox Hill near Bath. Comparing aerial photos from 2013 (left) and 2014 (right) shows demolition of the whole site[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: ensleigh-2009-2014.jpg]Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) Ensleigh near Bath. Comparing aerial photos from 2009 (left) and 2014 (right) shows demolition of half of the site[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: ensleigh-2019.jpg]By 2019 the old MoD Ensleigh site was a new housing estate
Google Maps 3D
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Getmapping, the company providing the aerial photography for many Internet mapping web sites, has repeatedly announced improved resolution data – the flights for which were performed in 2002 and 2006. This new data is currently only available for a few selected towns and cities. As luck would have it, Cheltenham is one of those places.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Compare the images (further below left to right, taken in 2006, 2002 and 1999). Note how a few of the old GCHQ Benhall buildings were demolished to make way for the Doughnut. Since that original 1999 photo was taken, the old buildings at Benhall have now gone completely, as revealed on the Bird's Eye view from Windows Live Local. At GCHQ Oakley, a similar Bird's Eye view now reveals that only the eastern end of the Priors Road site remains (for now). The western end nearest the main road has been totally cleared and the new Sainsbury's store is in its place.[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: cotswold-cover.jpg][/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]© Archant[/font]
[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]In its June 2006 edition, Gloucestershire's glossy lifestyle magazine Cotswold Life even featured a large high quality aerial photo of the GCHQ Doughnut on its front cover with the banner headline, "Secret Sights – our 10 best buildings viewed from the air".

After WWII, GCHQ set up an "experimental radio station", a top secret research facility, on the site of the RAF's wartime airfield at Blakehill Farm, Cricklade near Swindon, Wiltshire (pictured further below in a Pilot's Eye View, from my regular expert contributor). It was not too far away from GCHQ's new post-war HQ in Cheltenham. It consisted of huge communications masts arranged in mysterious strategic patterns in the middle of the old airfield and the site was still active in some capacity until the mid 1990s.
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Excited conspiracy theorists have got in touch urging me to consider the possibility of another GCHQ Doughnut under construction just north of Biggin Hill airfield in Kent, in the middle of [/font][url=https://www.bing.com/maps?sty=s&cp=51.35258~0.03743&eo=1&where1=51.35258,0.03743&lvl=14][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Keston Common. However, a simple investigation and a look at the corresponding [/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif]Bird's Eye view[/font][font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif] reveals it to be a Bryant Homes / Taylor-Wimpey development of posh apartments originally known as The Crescent and now Wilberforce Court. A nearby road is called Jackass Lane which sums things up nicely, don't you agree?[/font]

[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: keston-google.jpg]

[Image: keston-birds.jpg]
Another GCHQ Doughnut (top) hidden in Keston Common, Holwood Park, Kent? No. Just a development of posh apartments (bottom) called The Crescent
Bing Bird's Eye
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: GCHQ-1952.jpg]

[Image: GCHQ-1990.jpg]

[Image: GCHQ-2010.jpg]

[Image: GCHQ-2001.jpg]
GCHQ Benhall through the ages. Top to bottom: 1952, 1990, 2001, 2010
© Integrated Accommodation Services / GCHQ
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: benhall-2006.jpg]

[Image: benhall-2002.jpg]

[Image: benhall-1999.jpg]

[Image: oakley-2006.jpg]

[Image: oakley-2002.jpg]
The 2006, 2002 and 1999 versions (first three top to bottom) of Getmapping's image of GCHQ Benhall; 2006 and 2002 versions of GCHQ Oakley (next two)
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: GCHQ-benhall-2006.jpg]Bird's Eye view of GCHQ Benhall in 2006. GCHQ Doughnut (left) and new housing being built on original site (right)
Bing Bird's Eye
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: GCHQ-benhall-2008.jpg]Official press office aerial photo of GCHQ Benhall in 2008
© GCHQ
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: gchq-benhall-2019.jpg]GCHQ Doughnut at Benhall was further expanded with an additional office block (top right)
Google Maps 3D
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[font=Assistant, Calibri, "Arial Narrow", "Arial Condensed", serif][Image: gchq-minkels.jpg][/font]