Monday, 21 March 2011

Road to the Top Site 1976 – 79

The road to the top site didn’t normally carry a large amount of heavy traffic. Yes there was the 1 to 4 Tonner or Coach on watch change and infrequent heavier vehicles when maintenance was required. However, as hinted to in the last section, the major reconstruction phase in the years 1976 to 1979 was different. Numerous heavy loads, cranes, earth-movers etc were travelling backwards and forwards – there had been nothing like it since the initial construction phase on the RAF site in the years 1955 to 1957 and, even then, possibly less heavy plant was involved. I don’t know what the road surface was like at the beginning of 1976 but I do know that by later in 1977 the road was causing enough concern for the Station to be gathering evidence to support a bid for reconstruction.

The following pictures were taken in 1977 by station personnel. It looks like the survey was done in slightly inclement conditions, not unknown on Unst. (Left click on pictures to enlarge).

These pictures, together with other supporting material, were sent to higher authority to back the bid for reconstruction. I should imagine the case went onto HQ 11 GP, then to HQ STC, then to MOD and then back along the route in reverse. Authority was eventually given and rebuilding went ahead at the end of the top site reconstruction phase. The work was carried by the Shetland Islands Council – the only organisation in the Islands capable of undertaking such a job at the time – and was funded by MOD with taxpayers’ money. I’m fairly sure it wasn’t covered by the NATO  infrastructure funding.