The nuclear bunker - A brush with death row - CycleBlaze

March 24, 2015

The nuclear bunker

Happily, the red alert was never needed: but the bunker is still ready should the risk return
Heart 0 Comment 0

DEEP beneath a hill north-east of London is a hitherto secret bunker from which Britain would have been run after a nuclear attack. The little things show how serious the risk: a recorded announcement to tell those parts of the country still alive that many in other parts no longer were; a speech written for the Queen; a name decided for the BBC when it came under government control.

The bunker was sunk into a pit of rubble to protect it from tremors
Heart 0 Comment 0

There were bunkers like that all over Britain. Not for the likes of you and me but for politicians and bureaucrats, the people who would have tried to run what was left.

Britain could have been run from these desks
Heart 0 Comment 0
A desk - just one - for each of the region's vital services
Heart 0 Comment 0

Underground links joined all the bunkers in a network, designed so that if one were destroyed, contact could always be made with the others The bunkers had armed guards until only a few years ago. Many have since been abandoned. Those that remain could still be brought into action. And just one or two have been restored. That includes the one closest to London, to which the prime minister and closest colleagues would have holed up when nuclear war looked unavoidable.

Geiger counters still hang, waiting
Heart 0 Comment 0

My work took me down a bunker years back when the government was trying to sell it. I'd passed it who knows how many times without knowing. But that was the point, of course. It was chilling, bodily and mentally, and everything brought back the cold war era, from the typewriters to the obviously government style of printing on mugs and plates and notices.

The prime minister of the day - in this case Margaret Thatcher - would have broadcast to the nation from this studio, the BBC having been commandeered by the government as the Wartime Broadcasting Service
Heart 0 Comment 0

The chance to see one of these bunkers in near working condition was irresistible before I make my return to France.

Six hundred people would have lived underground here for months, their air filtered, their water recycled, their food good until it ran out and they died from starvation or, on coming back to the devastated surface for food, from radiation sickness. There were beds for only 200, so they'd have slept in shifts.

The soap is embossed with a crown and E II R and the toilet paper is printed "use both sides"
Heart 1 Comment 0

Quite how and what they would have done isn't clear, not to me anyway, but there was a desk for every section of the administration. Armed soldiers would have stood at the heavy gates to prevent ordinary people getting inside, but what would have stopped an armed soldier with just the same idea?

It wasn't a bike trip so much as a trip made during a bike ride. It's possible to get too addicted to having your front tyre under your nose. Sometimes it pays to be an ordinary tourist for a moment, don't you think?

Rate this entry's writing Heart 2
Comment on this entry Comment 0