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2 March 2016
The Pagodas are the iconic legacy of Orford Ness’s 100 year role as an isolated location for secret military experiments, beginning in 1915 with military aviation, continuing with Watson Watt and radar, and from 1953, for 15 years, Orford Ness functioned as a highly secret outpost of the Aldermaston ‘Atomic Weapons Research Establishment’ (AWRE). The pagoda design was meant to minimise damage resulting from accidental explosions (the actual nuclear testing was done in the Pacific). If a bomb had blown up within the laboratories there would have been some limited damage and it would ‘probably hit the Crown & Castle’ surmised one of the construction engineers (Jim Brown). (Cf. Most Secret: The Hidden History of Orford Ness by Paddy Heazel 2010 Chapter 9 ‘Atom Bombs over Suffolk’) Since the 1990s the National Trust has taken over responsibility for Orford Ness, including both preserving its fragile ecology and beginning to clear dangerous relics of its military past.
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