The National Trust (NT) purchased parts of Orford Ness from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in 1993 and, after two years of making the site safe and creating visitor displays, opened the Ness (or ‘Island’) to the public in 1995.
NT designates Orford Ness to be a National Nature Reserve (NNR), highlighting its flora & fauna to its visitors, with ornithological demands largely determining the Island’s opening dates and visitor-accessible areas.
A number of the volunteer Rangers, whilst also enjoying the ‘flora and fauna’ of Orford Ness, thought that greater emphasis should be given to its military history and its unique buildings.
IRGON, an informal and self-funded team, and operating independently of the National Trust, was formed when other volunteers with similar views joined.
IRGON’s research has been significantly helped by AWE’s (Atomic Weapons Establishment) de-classification of 800+ documents to support IRGON's Orford Ness research. We have also been fortunate to have been supported by people personally involved in, or experts aware of, the UK’s nuclear weapons programme.
In July 2020 IRGON gave the opening presentation to the King's College London’s biennial Nuclear History Conference. We continue to give presentations, both directly or virtually, of our research results and future plans.