Post World War Two some 30 Anti-Air Observation Rooms were built – large above ground hardened concrete constructions, each one to control a specific Gun Defence Area (GDA). More than 30 were planned but weren’t all built (or no evidence has been found so far!). In Northern Ireland there were originally two Gun Defence Areas, Belfast and Londonderry. One AAOR was built and commissioned at Lisburn, and it was decided to amalgamate the Belfast GDA with the Londonderry GDA controlled from the one centre. It was long assumed that this was a cost saving measure, and that an AAOR at Londonderry hadn’t been built as no details have been found about it in the Public Records Office.
It wasn’t until a chance sighting of the distinct ‘chimneys’ by an ‘interested person’ that the Londonderry AAOR was discovered 100m from the A2 just outside Campsie. It had been started but not finished. The concrete had poured, the blast doors hung and the building made water tight. However no internal fit out had occurred and, although some internal timber studding and door frames had been fitted, it was an otherwise bare concrete shell.
Quite an interesting site to visit to view the construction techniques and design of the building with all the internal components ‘stripped away’