Most Secret: The Hidden History of Orford Ness

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Orford Ness was so secret a place that most people have never heard of it. The role played in inventing and testing weapons over the course of the twentieth century was far more significant and much longer than that of Bletchley Park. Nestled on a remote part of the Suffolk coast, Orford Ness operated for over eighty years as a highly classified research and testing site for the British military, the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment and, at one point the US Department of Defence. The work conducted here by some of the greatest ‘boffins’ of past generations played a crucial role in winning three great wars of the twentieth century: the first, Second and the Cold. Hosting dangerous early night-flying and parachute testing during the First Wrold War, the ingenious radar trials by Watson Watt and his team in the 19030s, through to the testing of nuclear bombs and the top-secret UK-US COBRA MIST project, the ‘Ness’ has been at the forefront of military technology from 1913 to the 1990s. Now a unique National Trust Property and National Nature Reserve, its secrets have remained buried until recently. This book reveals an incredible history, rich with ingenuity, intrigue and typical British inventiveness.

By Paddy Heazell (16 Aug 2010)