These ‘golf balls’ belong to RAF Menwith Hill an UK/US joint electronics communication and monitoring station – usually known as the ‘spy base’. It is supposedly the biggest in the world.
It is about 6 or 7 miles from where I live, and it can be seen for miles around – especially from the tops of the high moors and hills. Funnily enough, maybe it is because it has been there for many many years and we have gotten used to it, but it doesn’t look out of place. I quite like it in fact – it breaks up the landscape in a funny sort of way – and it looks very futuristic.
Several years ago my ex-wife had a client who worked at the base and we got an invite to a meal and a concert. We could only go into the restaurant and the auditorium (we saw ‘The Four Tops’ who had been flown in especially for the concert), but it was like a little bit of America. We had to change our British Pounds for US Dollars, and the streets were all called ‘5th Avenue’ and such like. It was just like being in an American town. I wanted to see the command centre and the Cray computers but they wouldn’t let me! It was a bit like North Korea in that we were chaperoned at all times.
Last year I was on the moors and two American ladies stopped me and asked me for directions to somewhere. We chatted awhile and I asked if they worked at the spy base. ‘Oh, you mean the weather station’ they replied. I said I thought it was a US government listening station, but they were adament it was a weather station, maybe that’s why it is covered in razor wire with armed guards and security cameras every 100 yards.
I once drove past very slowly with a DSLR and a 300mm Nikkor lens on the front seat, and I was soon followed by a Police car who made no attempt to overtake me. I drove around the full perimeter of the site twice to see what it did, but it just followed me at my speed of 15 miles an hour…maybe coincidence…maybe not.
I’m guessing not!