Former Nato spy base shaped like giant golf ball up for sale

Balado Bridge airfield. Picture: Wikicommons/Dr Duncan Pepper
Balado Bridge airfield. Picture: Wikicommons/Dr Duncan Pepper
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A former Nato spy base which is shaped like a giant golf ball has gone on sale for £1.1 million.

The eavesdropping post was opened by the Princess Anne in 1985 and quickly became known locally as “the golf ball”.

Balado NATO satellite ground station. Picture: Wikicommons/Dr Duncan Pepper

Balado NATO satellite ground station. Picture: Wikicommons/Dr Duncan Pepper

The 60ft spherical structure masked the dishes and aerials of the base, which is at Balado Bridge in Kinross-shire, not far from the former T in the Park festival site.

It was officially designated a SATCOM II Satellite Ground Listening Station.

Now estate agents are marketing the site as a potential storage facility, retirement home or pitch and putt venue.

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After it was decommissioned in 2006, it was bought by Bob Ferguson, an entrepreneur, for just over £500,000.

He said: “I was politely told that my pockets were not deep enough to buy it. I forgot about it but when I came back a few years later I went up to Kinross to look at it. The ‘for sale’ sign was still there.

“I asked if it still belonged to the Ministry of Defence and discovered it was up for sale again. I phoned the powers that-be and was told that they would listen to the first person to come along with the cash. I said, ‘Well I’m your man’.”

A deal for Mr Ferguson to sell the golf ball to a Dutch company interested in using it for data storage stalled last year and he has now decided to put it back on the market.

He added: “I am drawn to unusual buildings.

“I tend to look at something and say ‘what can I do with it?’. Half the population of Scotland can access Balado Bridge within an hour.

“That is pretty important. To me it is the ideal location to set up a retirement home.”

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The fibreglass structure was linked to the former military command centre at Pitreavie, Fife, by microwave transmitter. But its tasks have all been transferred to Faslane on the Clyde.

The Balado base facilitated long-distance secure broadcasts between Nato forces and was an integral part of the defence satellite communications system of the United States Air Force.

Soldiers from the Royal Corps of Signals manned the post until 2006. Some came from Edinburgh based 242 Signal Squadron.

A guardhouse, office building, ground station and other outbuildings are included in the asking price, along with about nine acres of land, used as an airfield during the Second World War.