Hollingbourne Zero Station

Hidden away in a small piece of woodland next to a field near the village of Hollingbourne is a small underground shelter. If discovered the casual observor may mistake it for an air raid shelter,but it is in fact a Zero Station.

It would have been used during world war 2 as a hide-out for the Special Duties Organisation who were a branch of the Auxilary Units.

The Special Duties Organisation role involved spying and radio communications,both men and women could be chosen as it's members. If Britain had been invaded the spies would of observed enemy troop movements and anything else of interest they had seen, then they would report the information to a Radio operator by means of putting the report in a secret hiding place (maybe under a log or a rock) called a "Letter Box",the Radio operator would then pick up the report ready to transmit the information. If the Radio operator did not collect the report themselves a "Cut-out" was used,(who was a sort of Middle-Man) they would then pass the report to a second "Letter Box" for the Radio operator to collect. Using a "Cut-out" would help keep their identities secret.

A radio operator had his Radio equipment hidden away in an "Out Station" which was usually in an underground hide-out. The Out Stations would then transmit their reports to a local "Control station",who then transmitted it on again to the Headquarters at Hannington Hall,Wiltshire.

A Control Station was operated by three specially trained women of the ATS Auxiliary Unit, each station having two transmitters and two receivers. One set was for everyday use whilst the whole radio network was in training, the other to be used in the event of an invasion. The training set was often housed in a surface building. The other set would have been close by in an underground hideout known as a 'Zero Station', so-called because when the station's code-name was used it was always followed by the code suffix 'Zero'.

The purpose of a Zero Station was to receive coded information from the many Out-Stations in the surrounding area, passing on the details via a direct phone line to the Special Duties Headquarters at Hannington Hall.


Entrance Shaft

Entrance to the Zero Station was gained by lifting a concealed wooden,earth covered trapdoor,then you climbed down a small ladder to enter. Inside was a small room made to look like it was the only one. Originally explosives and ammunition would of been in this room so if the enemy discovered the entrance they would think it was just a small ammunition store.

Looking down into the entrance room,originally the doorway into the main chamber would of been hidden.


Lifting a secret catch would of moved a section of shelving allowing a hidden door to be opened and allowing access into the main chamber where the radio equipment was kept,as well as chairs,a table,bunk beds,spare batteries and a generator to recharge them. Also a good supply of food would be stored here. Fresh air was supplied into the Zero Station by two asbestos pipes that led to the outside,these were disguised outside as holes of a Badger sett. A 40 foot wire aerial for the radio ran up a nearby tree and was hidden from sight by being inserted into a cut groove in the tree,then the tree bark was put back in place to hide the wire.

Main Chamber


Next to the main chamber was another small room which had a chemical toilet and storage space. Leading off that room was a 3 foot diameter,16 foot long,circular emergency exit tunnel,this had a right angle turn near the end which led to a smaller length of tunnel and then to a sqaure opening where there was another concealed hatch to the outside.

Small end room


Emergency exit tunnel


The emergency exit is under this Corregated iron