Sunday, 11 October 2009
I've been intending to visit Orford Ness for years. Orford is one of my favourite places on the Suffolk coast. It has a fine castle and a planned Norman town with the original street plan, even though it is now only a village. And from the quay you can take a ferry to the Ness where secret experiments were carried out for years on radar and ballistics and on the atom bomb. Yet for some reason I never managed to visit the Ness until yesterday, when Kate and I took the National Trust ferry and spent the afternoon wandering around what must be one of the eeriest and most beautiful places in Britain.
Various buildings dot the shingle banks, many of them having once been put to uses that remain unknown. Others have been restored to provide viewing platforms and information. The strangest place of all was Laboratory Number 1 where research was carried out on the bomb. The walls are coated in green mould and peeling paint and the rusting roof members creak in the wind. Half of the floor is taken up with a tank of black water.
Waders, gulls and harriers fly over the site and on top of the Bomb Ballistics building the railings vibrate in the wind and make a strange howling sound.
There are more photos here.