Civil Defence today

Today's nuclear bunkers

Following the end of the Cold war, the nationwide network of bunkers fell into disrepair and were sold off. The huge underground emergency War HQ at Corsham near Bath also got mothballed. Some of the bunkers entered active military service, whilst others were sold off privately. Local councils also have ‘hardened control rooms’ which mainly date back to the Cold War and Nuclear era. However these now act as emergency control rooms, and are not referred to as nuclear bunkers.

RAF Boulmer

As part of the UK Air Surveillanc and Control System (ASACS), 3 military bases were designated with ROTOR bunkers to continue radar operations. RAF Boulmer, Neatishead and Buchan formed part of the key line. However today Buchan and Neatishead have been sold off with Boulmer originally intended to be as well. However early in 2008 it was decided that Boulmer should stay operational whilst the previous Air control from Neatishead and Buchan was relocated to the RAF Scampton CRC (Control Reporting Centre).

The bunker at RAF Boulmer should not be confused with a Civil defence bunker for government purposes (of which there appear to be none in current active service), rather it is a military defence bunker. According to information from the MOD the role of these (and the other military bunkers) would not change during a war and would be even more vital.

RAF High Wycombe

The RAF operations centre at High Wycombe, also has a nuclear bunker, costing approximately £83m to build. From this bunker the warning message would have been issued to the UKWMO and would be the trigger for today's National attack warning system.

HMS Northwood

HMS Northwood, the Permanent Joint Headquaters also has a major and active nuclear bunker. This centre has played a pivotal role in recent conflicts, and would be the key location for any wartime military response.

RAF Rudloe Manor

Corsham is/was home to a number of MOD sites including the Basil Hill Barracks, Rudloe Manor, Copenacre and Hawthorn. Copenacre and Hawthorn were both based in stone quarries, Basil Hill and Rudloe Manor were both surface level centres.

As a result of a major redevelopment, Rudloe Manor (which closed in 2000) and Copenacre have both been sold by the MOD and relocated to Basil Hill for a MOD/PFI scheme called "Corsham New Environment". According to the MOD website:

"A major construction project to provide new facilities for the team that keep people across Defence connected is nearing completion. From satellite-phones used in Afghanistan, to telephones on desks in MOD Main Building, Defence Equipment and Support's Information Systems and Services (DE&S ISS) staff deliver communications systems right across Defence. Currently spread across a number of sites, the £690 million Corsham New Environment Programme will unite the team in one location at Basil Hill in Corsham, Witshire."

According to Alan Turnbull, the infamous Corsham Computer Centre – rumoured to be the new emergency government hq is that "MASS Consultants manage the IT system within the underground computer centre in Corsham, on behalf of the MoD's Strategic Systems Integrated Project Team (StratSys IPT). It goes on to state that analysts who assess the performance and effectiveness of Trident use the IT facilities in the centre."

In time I hope to expand the whole Corsham area and cover the Burlington bunker, but for now please visit:

MOD Bunker (Pindar bunker)

The MOD bunker in Whitehall (otherwise known as Pindar) become operational in 1992 and cost £126.3m to build. It is a "protected crisis management facility" which is the main communication point between Whitehall and the Permanent Joint Headquarters at Northwood.

The bunker comes equipped with a broadcasting studio and accommodation to house its inhabitants when working a 3 shift cycle. Those who would go into the bunker are "Ministers, senior military and civilian personnel, plus service and civilian operational and support staff" and is manned permanently.

Much of this information comes from a Hansard question and answer session available (hansard info) and for photos inside the bunker you should visit David Moore's website . According to David Moore's site it appears that the bunker is at least 2 layers deep.

This therefore appears to be today's main nuclear bunker which I had previously overlooked due to its use during recent wars. Apparently it costs over £7.3 million each year to run (based on 1994 figures).

From David Moore's website we know that the entrance to the bunker is sign posted "To Bomb Shelter Area" and that the bunker has a basement where diesel generators generate the power.

An interesting note from Hansard is "A variety of routes exist which would enable the occupants to escape from the facility in the event that the building above it had collapsed."

Most likely these escape routes involve using the Q-Whitehall network which has more details about the secret tunnels with which they should connect. What is interesting about the idea of building collapse is that if it collapsed then the building would provide an extra shield for the bunker below from radiation.

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