Sunday, 28 December 2008

The Secret Nuclear Bunker

Secret no more! The week before Christmas we made our second visit to this once secret place. I did not have a camera on my first visit as I was not blogging at that time and it is only about 20 minutes drive from home so thought you might like to come and visit with me.

That Pylon on the horizon is all that one can see from above ground. I think the stark Wintry day adds to the mystery, don't you.

We have parked the car and are walking through the woods

And here we are. This tiny anonymous bungalow is all that one would have seen when it was still a secret place.

Through the door of this rural bungalow nestling in the Essex countryside we discover the twilight world of the government of the Cold War built in 1952.
Behind the blast screens that protect this bungalow is the entrance to an amazing labyrinth of rooms, on three levels, built into a hillside, encased in 10 feet thick reinforced concrete and 100 feet underground.
This is where devolved central government and military commanders would have run the region had the UK been attacked and nuclear war broken out.
Built in great secrecy and under strict, military security the local villagers and contractors alike knew nothing of what was concealed in this hillside or how it would be used.
There could have been up to 600 personnel, possibly including the Prime Minister, organising the survival of the civilian population in the aftermath of nuclear war.
It is now a museum and privately owned.

Here near to the entrance we see a German Doodlebug. This was an unmanned flying bomb that was rocket propelled and kept flying until it ran out of fuel. Nobody therefore knew where it would land. Alan who remembers these says it was real scary when you heard one overhead and then, when the sound stopped, you knew it was about to drop.

We entered the bungalow noting a screen that told us we were being watched and as there was nobody around we picked up an audio wand (this is not an escorted tour) and made our way through the 18" steel door and began to make our way down this sloping corridor.

Passing gas Masks hanging on the wall

We pass a communications room

And the BBC broadcasting centre and notice that everywhere is in darkness.
We will be seeing lots of wax works type 'models' as we go through which really does add to the eeriness of the place.
As we go through a door and walk through a very dark corridor we come to an area with several doors and are wondering which will be the best way to go when a guy comes down a staircase and informs us that the place is closed! Restricted opening in the Winter apparently. He was a maintenance guy and was on site working on something. Seeing my dissapointment he said we could stay and continue our tour and began switching on lights for us (Memories of our trip down the caves in Yorkshire - people can be kind) and disappeared again.

Some serious communications

And the telephone exchange

Part of the Scientific Advisors room

Military Operations Command centre where as we will see in the next photo they slept on the job

Life support systems, air conditioning (always kept at 60f) and water treatment plants

One of the senior staff bedrooms

The Prime Ministers bedroom where we see a John Major lookalike in bed!

Nuclear suits

Civilian Operations Room

Each government department had their own little space within the larger room

The Sick Bay - this body groans as we walk past

No privacy in the sick bay

The operating theatre

Body bags and coffins - what would they do with the bodies I wonder!

A dormitory, one of five built to house up to 600 personnel on constant "hot bed shifts".

The tour ends in the canteen which is now used as a cafe for visitors and where we meet the maintenance man again.

We were not interested in staying for tea, as Pilgrims Hall is nearby and we planned to take tea there, so here we are making our way out through the exit tunnel.
I hope you found this in teresting and not too scary.


Miss Kitty, NFC said...

Very eerie indeed. Creepy almost! Probably even more so for you, being the only two down there, except for the mysterious maintenance man..

Patsy said...

That is fascinating.

Femin Susan said...

How awesome! Thanks for sharing!
Wishing you " A Happy 2009.

Willow said...

Very interesting. It looks like the military and government were prepared for any eventuality. Thanks for the tour!

Unknown said...

Fascinating and also slightly disconcerting. There was another one of these bunkers close to where I grew up in Herts.

Anonymous said...

Barbara, that was fascinating.... there is a bungalow on the outskirts of the village I live in that is mostly underground. Only a door and window show - I'm not sure why its like it though. How good that you got to go there - all that history in one place - though it makes you wonder how they would have coped and for how long! Love the humourous bits ?John Major? Who's he?

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

So spooky to think all this is hidden from view!

I hope ;you are enjoying a lovely Christmas week!

Willow said...

Yes, San Juan Capistrano is the same one that Pat Boone sang about. I'm hoping to stop there tomorrow again on my way to visit MamaMia.

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

I see Miss Kitty has been leaving comments on your blog - I wonder when she did that!!

But I agree with her. It was quite interesting, and I felt I was perhaps watching a sci fi movie. I can just imagine those wax figures coming to life, and the control panels starting to light up and blink.

Linda said...

How scary that is. Who knew they were prepared for something like that?

Vee said...

It reminded me of an episode of of my favorite tv programs and one which is about to begin after many months...which reminds me to check on that.

Yes, indeedy, did it creep you out at all? That doodlebug...scary!

Rosie said...

Thank you for taking us with you on your visit - what an eerie, un-nerving place - there is a similar bunker not far from us just into Cheshire, near Nantwich, which is also a fascinating visit - it just brings it home how vulnerable we were then.

Elizabeth said...

This is utterly fascinating - and not a little spooky.
Hadn't a clue it existed at all - I suppose that was the idea!
The mannequins/dummies add to the strangeness of it all.
Thanks for the tour.
I'm glad you went somewhere more cheerful for tea!

Reflection Through The Seasons said...

How interesting Barbara..... Your pictures really do depict a winter's day in England.

Happy New Year - Marion & John

Aubrey said...

That was very interesting. Now I'll have to be on the lookout for mysterious little buildings in remote plasces. I think there were alot of people over here who dug out bomb shelters in their backyards.

Tea Time With Melody said...

Oh my gosh, this is fantastic! I love it when you go places and take us along.