Old Nuclear Bunker (Royal Observer Corps)
Image by tj.blackwell
These unassuming objects are the surface apparatus of a cold-war era nuclear bunker. The purpose of such bunkers was to provide shelter and protection from a nuclear blast for the men and women of the Royal Observer Corps, a volunteer force (working under authority of the Home Office with the UKWMO) who manned a huge network of these underground posts throughout the UK. One of their tasks in the event of the holocaust was to measure and triangulate any explosions and then to pass this information up the hierarchy of command so they could get a clear picture of the extent of the damage.
The brick buildings in the background were originally constructed during World War II and were a part of the local anti-air defences. The WWII-era brick buildings were reused for the purposes of aircraft spotting when the nuclear bunker was built. Such spotting posts are usually referred to as Orlit posts (although strictly speaking; the term refers to prefabricated concrete posts built by the Orlit company in the 1950s and this one pre-dates those). There is an excellent site illustrating the instrumentation of one of these in active service which can be seen online here.
The views from atop this particular post are quite incredible; you can see for many miles in any direction. Apparently there are a lot of stargazers that bring their telescopes up to this area and the owner of this site is considering updating the emplacement as some sort of viewing platform for them.
For more information about the functions of the Royal Observer Corps apparatus seen in this picture (and a map of the northern bunker network), I recommend this page which has lots of interesting explanations for the instruments on the site of such posts. You should also check out this facinating documentary clip from Reader’s Digest. A thankyou goes out to the people who have commented on this set and contacted me through Flickr mail for helping to refine my understanding of the ROC.