Churchill's British Resistance - The Special Duties Branch


Heiferlaw - Alnwick Auxiliary Zero Station
by CART CIO for Northumberland, Stephen Lewins.

Alnwick Auxiliary Zero Station1


This is not an Auxiliary Unit OB but is built along the same lines as most of the Northumberland OB`s. It is a larger “elephant” type shelter with a couple of extra walls sectioning up the interior. The main entrance is within a pile of stones surrounding the square shaft.






 Alnwick Auxiliary Zero Station 2    Alnwick Auxiliary Zero Station 3

The interior has been white washed inside and there are several shelves for the radio equipment. There are two smaller rooms at either end of the Zero station and one larger central room. Inside there are still some pipes with holes cut in them, these were used to collect messages from.

Alnwick Auxiliary Zero Station 3



The bolt hole tunnel is a long concrete pipe that heads away to the north of the site. At the end of the tunnel there is what, looks more like the normal Auxiliary OB pipe entrance. It has a piece of broken drain cover over it.

One of the trees close to the Zero station has a groove in the bark where the coax cable was run and hidden for the aerial.




Alnwick Auxiliary Zero Station 5

The site is north of Alnwick in Northumberland not far from the old A1 main road close to the medieval tower at Heiferlaw. It is west of the tower inside the remains of a stone/iron age earth work, surrounded by large trees. The Zero station is almost at the end of the Wooler to Alnwick pillbox stopline.
Alnwick Auxiliary Zero Station 6
Manned by ATS girls originally billeted in private houses in Alnwick though they later moved to Doxford Hall (the Runcie family home). Some officers from the SDS lived in Alnmouth for some time before moving to Doxford.

Cpl Frank Hewitt was the man who looked after the radio sets and the batteries/generators for the Zero and Out Stations.He was regular army Royal Signals and travelled around on a motorbike.

An Auxiliary OB is located a couple of miles SW of the site towards Shipley at the rear of Hulne Park in Alnwick so maybe they had access. The network of Zero stations in North East England seem to have been linked with the Aux.Units. The Heiferlaw site was linked to RAF Ouston and then on to Coniscliffe in the North Riding of Yorkshire.

Map ref : NU182 177

Tim Wray adds, "Heiferlaw Bank OB in Northumberland - this was seen in use during the Wartime by members of the Doxford Patrol, including Mr G Hedley Dixon (who I believe is still alive.)
Apparently the men seen going below ground wore insignia bearing the numbers '490'"

Alnwick Auxiliary Zero Station 8

Alnwick Auxiliary Zero Station 9

(Images and content provided by Stephen Lewins.)