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RAF Saxa Vord

A former RAF monitoring base located on the north coast of Unst, the most northerly of the Shetland Islands, RAF Saxa Vord was operational between 1957 and 2006. Throughout the Cold War it provided the UK with early warning of aircraft approaching from the North for the Ministry of Defence Integrated Command and Control System. Rebuilt in 1992, the base extends from a camp lying to the north of Haroldswick and includes radar domes and sizeable communications masts located on the hills of Saxa Vord, Sothers Field and Ward of Norwick. The original communications installation, begun during World War II, was destroyed in record-breaking winds which may have reached 197 mph (317 kph) on the night of 31st December 1991.

The end of the Cold War brought down-sizing of the station, and it was mothballed in 2006, although the radar heads on the top of the Saxa Vord remain active, controlled from elsewhere. Much of the base is being put to other uses, including the opening of the Saxa Vord Resort and a business hub, which includes the most northerly brewery in Scotland occupying the former motor transport pool buildings.

An exhibition about the former station can be found in the former Medical Centre alongside a chocolate shop.


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