March 11, 2015

Struth! Bunker down in this Cold War hideout

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of the traveller, David Ellis says it's no mistake – the British government did put up this road sign showing the way to its Secret Nuclear Bunker.

But not until 1992, some 40 years after the bunker was buried into Kelvedon Hatch in Essex in the 1950s at the start of the Cold War era.

Initially an RAF Fighter Command control and command centre, it was later converted to one of 17 similar nuclear-bomb-proof "Regional Seats of Government" across England in which up to 600 senior civil and military personnel could live and work in the event of potential enemy attack on Britain. Each had sufficient facilities and supplies to see those inside able to run the country and all three defence forces without need to leave their bunkers for up to three months

Some 38m underground (125ft) the 3-storey Kelvedon Hatch Bunker was accessed through an innocuous-looking suburban-style bungalow directly above it.

And located within the bunker were electrical generators, an air-conditioning plant, a vast military communications system, mini-hospital, a water-supply with its own deep bore, a sewage treatment station, canteens, accommodation… and a complete BBC broadcast studio and adjacent transmission tower through which the Prime Minister, who could be safely housed in the bunker, could broadcast information and messages of encouragement to the populace.

The bunker was decommissioned in 1992 and is today a museum with tours of its original facilities and equipment. It's also used regularly in films and TV series.

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