Civil Defence today

Cold War Sirens

Until 1992 the UK had a network of over 7000 fixed warning sirens as part of the HANDEL network. These were removed because (according to Wikipedia) the threat subsided and their efficiency is limited by double glazed windows.

The new attack warning system has also now been relegated - partly due to the change in our communication methods and partly because the system was always "analogue" (I am unsure how it therefore has any value in warning today).

Many of the old warning sirens are used in flood warning and some may simply have not been removed. One of the key questions often asked is "where were the old sirens located?". It would appear there is no central list and so this website is aiming to build up a picture of where they are and were.

How you can help ...

  1. Do you remember the location of some old warning sirens from the late 80s? Were you responsible for manning a rural post to warn your village or town? If so we would love to hear from you. Please email
  2. Do you know of a siren currently in use? Is there an old one that is no longer used but was never dismantled? If so - please post a Google Street Map link to the comments below or send it through to

To wet your appetite - here is a flood warning siren from Hebden Bridge. Note the green box at the foot of it which connects it to the BT network.

It would appear that the sirens from Essex have now been removed (2010) - see this article from the BBC. The reason? The Environment agency are moving away from sirens and now using texting and calling (See Environment agency website). It is therefore highly likely that this method too would form the basis of any current national warning system.

And for the avid fan - can you spot the siren in this picture near London Waterloo East? It is there!

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