April 18, 2024

Hankering for History

Hanker: To have a strong, often restless desire, in this case for–you guessed it–history!

Britain’s Secret Bunkers

3 min read

Hack Green Nuclear Bunker

Britain’s seemingly innocent countryside is in fact home to several secret underground bunkers. Built during times of epic unrest and able to withstand Cold War threats, many of these secret bases are no longer operational, but instead are now open to the visiting public.

In the last hundred years alone, our nation has been plagued by war. Two world wars and a cold war (amongst other wars we have been involved in) have resulted in secret underground bunkers and bases to have been constructed throughout Britain. Many of these bunkers are no longer operational, but still are available to visit as a way of reminding us of the ghostly shadows our recent past. Here are five of Britain’s secret bunkers.

Burlington Bunker

Burlington bunker is a former emergency relocation site in Corsham, Wiltshire. The old stone quarry was acquired by the Ministry of Aircraft Production, in 1940, in order to create an underground factory, which has since been known by several different codenames, including Subterfuge and Site 3. However the site was subsequently passed onto the Ministry of the Defence, when it became the main ‘Emergency Government Headquarters’, with quarters created for the Prime Minister and their family. Fascinating to visit, the bunker was only declassified in 2004!

Kelvedon Hatch

Kelvedon Hatch
Kelvedon Hatch

Kelvedon Hatch has served many a purpose in its time. Designed to hold up to six hundred military and civilian personnel in the event of a nuclear war, the bunker was originally designed as a RAF ROTOR station, turning into a civil defence centre and finishing as the Regional Government Headquarters. After the cold war, the bunker was no longer required by the government–especially since it cost three million pounds a year simply to keep on standby. The bunker is now privately owned and can visited by anyone interested in a spot of British war history.

Scotland’s Secret Bunker

If you travel three miles north of the picturesque port of Anstruther, you will notice a private road which leads south off of the B940. It is possible to understand the secrecy which enshrouds this Scottish bunker as you are led through walls of trees and between barbed wire fences before finally arriving at the regular red-roof tiled building. For forty years after the end of World War Two this bunker remained one of Scotland’s biggest kept secrets. Entering down along the 150m etrance tunnel, you feel as though you are truly stepping back in time. The building provides a sobering experience to visitors, bringing to attention the reality we would have faced if a nuclear war was ever embarked upon.

Battle of Britain Bunke

The Battle of Britain Bunker is in Uxbridge, originally used as an underground operations room by the No 11 Group Fighter Command during the Second World War. Operations for Fighter Aircraft were controlled from the bunker throughout most of the war, most famously during the Battle of Britain and D Day. Today it is run by the RAF for the purpose of a Force Development asset, but is also open to visitors. A memorial outside the bunker records Churchill’s gratitude: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed, by so many, to so few”.

Hack Green Nuclear Bunker

Hack Green Nuclear Bunker
Hack Green Nuclear Bunker

This nuclear bunker in Cheshire was designed with the sole purpose of confusing WW2 German bombers who were trying to find a railway junction to destroy. After the war was over the bunker became modernised as part of the ROTOR project, becoming a ground controlled inception radar station. As the threat of nuclear holocaust became a concern during the cold war, the bunker was revamped as a secret government headquarter base, boasting the most advanced air filtration system of its time, whilst offering three thousand square metres of armoured accommodation!

So why not delve into Britain’s underground labyrinths and see which secrets you can uncover?

Sydney is a recent history graduate who writes for Distinctive Doors. In her free time she loves to explore the world around her, from taking long walks in the countryside, to visiting numerous museums.