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Protected Area Wood Norton

April 05, 2013 10:08 PM
Radio Studio

Situated not far from Evesham and hidden beneath a wooded hillside, a transmission tower is the only clue to motorists of its existence as they pass by on the busy A44 in Worcestershire, this is PAWN (Protected Area Wood Norton).

Wood Norton, Worcestershire, United Kingdom


Grid Reference: SP016471


No Access

This site is active and in use by the BBC.


Last Updated: July 19, 2017 9:12 PM

PAWN History

The BBC's Wartime Broadcasting Service first went in to operation during the Second World War. Staff and resources worked from a relocation site at Wood Norton near Evesham. The construction of a large bunker was completed in 1966, built housing four radio studios and accommodation for 100 staff, known within the organisation as "deferred facilities".

With the Cold War came a new threat, the threat of nuclear attack and the BBC revised its plans accordingly. It was decided that the broadcasting service could be used to provide the population with instructions, information, guidance, news and Central Government announcements.

It was also hoped that the service would give encouragement and relieve stress and strain, this was to have been achieved through pre-recorded entertainment programmes and records which would have made up 50 percent of the BBC's wartime programming. Until 1993, 100 days worth of programmes were lined up and ready to play if the worse happened, a mix of comedy, drama and religious programmes, as well as the Julie Andrews classic, The Sound of Music.

Wood Norton would provide a continuous national programme. BBC staff posted at Regional Government Headquarters around the UK could opt in to this service at any point when the regional commissioner did not require use of the system. In this way the maximum number of listeners would hear the vital life-saving information broadcasted in these transmissions. The BBC's regional staff were also prepared to provide programming should the region be cut off from the central national output.

Only a select few within the BBC knew of the existence of the PAWN bunker, those that were let in on the secret were first vetted by the Ministry Of Defence and were asked to sign the Official Secrets Act.

Today, Wood Norton Hall is still in use by the BBC who keep details of the site top secret, claiming the site is used as nothing more than a BBC training site, a weekend retreat for the organisation's engineers.

From above compound consists of a complex of modern buildings which are equipped with the latest in broadcast technology, within the complex there's also a large canteen, the rest of the site at Wood Norton is buried beneath the hill.

The nuclear blast proof bunker is built into the hillside, over 50 meters long and constantly on stand-by in case of an attack on the Beeb's Central London studios. As well as radio studios, the bunker also has dormitories and facilities to comfortably house the 100 staff underground for a sustained period of time.

The bunker has rarely been used, apart from as back-up studios while work was being carried out on the BBC's Broadcasting House in London and in 1999 when staff were relocated from London and generators were put on stand-by with the threat of the Millennium Bug looming.

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