UK & World News
Cold War Missile Sites Given Listed Status
Two military sites which were readied for strikes against the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis 50 years ago have been given listed status.
The Thor missile sites at the former RAF bases in North Luffenham, Rutland, and Harrington, Northamptonshire, have been given Grade II* and Grade II listings respectively.
Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said the sites are a lasting reminder of a "knife-edge moment in history".
"The remains of the Cold War are fading from view faster than those of the World Wars," he said.
"Our Cold War heritage is a complicated and not always easily loved collection of concrete bunkers and silos. But they are the castles and forts of the second half of the 20th century and we want to ensure that the best examples survive.
"These two missile sites are among the few physical reminders in this country of the Cuban missile crisis, a moment when the entire world held its breath."
During the late 1950s, dozens of Thor missiles were deployed at 20 sites in the east of England.
They were ready for use when the Soviet Union placed armed nuclear weapons in Cuba in October 1962 - a move which left the world on the brink of nuclear war.
In the 13 days which followed, a deal was struck in which the Soviets agreed to remove the weapons and the United States promised not to invade Cuba.
Heritage minister Ed Vaizey said: "Listing these two missile sites is particularly poignant on the 50th anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis and serves as a very physical reminder of an uncertain and tense period where the world feared a nuclear war."
RAF North Luffenham is now St George's Barracks, while RAF Harrington is now mainly farmland.
The two sites are the most intact examples of Thor missile bases in England, with concrete launch pads and blast walls still visible.