Cold War underground bunkers hidden under the streets of Merseyside
It’s hard to believe that our homes, streets, and buildings are built on hidden, underground fallout shelters.
Beneath Liverpool’s art galleries, theaters and town halls are nuclear bunkers, a hangover from the 20th century when fear of a nuclear-powered world war was rife.
The end of World War II brought relief across Europe as six years of destructive conflict came to an end.
Read more: Stunning photos show the rise and fall of Booth Hall, Manchester’s beloved children’s hospital
But the conclusion of the war also heralded the emergence of a new power struggle between America and the USSR, dragging the world into a nuclear arms race known as the Cold War.
In Britain and much of the Western world, the looming fear of a nuclear attack was very real.
By the 1960s America and the USSR had stockpiled enough weapons with nuclear capabilities to destroy the entire world on several occasions and the Home Office prepared the British public for such an impending catastrophe by creating nuclear bunkers.
Several of them were built under the streets and buildings of Merseyside and Liverpool.
Although no longer in use and looking a little less resistant to wear and tear, these bunkers are a fascinating part of Liverpool history.
Here are the underground bunkers hidden near you.
Liverpool Walker Gallery – First Main Emergency Center Site
The basement of the Walker Art Gallery on William Brown Street, in the heart of Liverpool’s St George’s district, housed the city’s main nuclear bunker.
During the 1980s, Merseyside County’s main emergency center consisted of two small rooms below the art gallery, both converted for use as a fallout shelter.
The emergency center remained operational until 1990 when it was moved to Bootle, but when it was still in use the room was bristling with communication devices, including private telephone lines and telephone machines. to write.
A back-up generator was also located elsewhere in the basement, although this, along with an additional fuel tank, had been moved to the new Bootle center.
Today, the pair of rooms that made up the bunker have been divided and now serve as stationery and staff cloakroom.
Birkenhead Wirral Metropolitan Borough Emergency Center – Glenda Jackson Theater
Liverpool’s first nuclear bunker was opened in 1952, just seven years after the Japanese surrender and the end of World War II.
Birkenhead Corporation Control was located in a purpose-built center under the Technical College Theater (later renamed Glenda Jackson Theater in honor of the famous comedian) at Birkenhead’s Borough Road.
The fallout shelter will benefit from quite impressive use, despite its closure in 1968.
During the 1980s, the shelter was renovated and relaunched, with a new back-up generator, forced ventilation and explosion-proof valves.
A set of armored doors that were originally installed in 1952 were also improved.
In 1990 the Wirral Emergency Center was moved to Westminster House, Birkenhead and the bunker under the Glenda Jackson Theater was closed.
In less than a year, the Cold War would be over after the collapse of the USSR.
The Birkenhead Vault Control Cabinet and Siren were both donated to the Hack Green Museum in 2002.
Unfortunately, the Glenda Jackson Theater closed in 2003 before being demolished, it is believed that the bunker, which had served as a recording studio for the college, was backfilled.
Bootle County Merseyside Main Emergency Center Second Site – Bootle Town Hall
Merseyside County’s main emergency center moved from the Walker Art Gallery to the King Arthur’s Room, located in the basement of Bootle Town Hall in Oriel Road, following the abolition of the council of Merseyside County in 1986.
The town hall basement was fine, as it is believed that a civil defense control center had been set up there during World War II.
A decontamination and cleaning station, as well as an airlock at each end of the room consisting of two gas-tight doors, were already present in King Arthur’s chamber, making it suitable for nuclear fallout purposes.
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The construction plans for a new shelter were not drawn up until 1989, the architects proposing plans drawn up for a technical room, a communication room, a radio room, a water tank room, a dormitory, a kitchen, a controller room and three liaison rooms.
But by the time real large-scale construction began on the center, the imminent danger of nuclear war had passed.
Today, King Arthur’s bedroom is used for storage, but three ticker tables are still in place along with much of the unfinished loom around the room.
T eCHO has launched a nostalgic 56-page print supplement. It’s packed with photos from the recent and not-so-recent past, shopping, fashion and music at Albert Dock, as well as an elephant parade in Woolton. You can order a copy here.