This town-like bunker was Britain’s Cold War plan B
Bunkers are always fascinating to visit if you’re a history buff, and Britain’s plan B during the Cold War was a fairly elaborate underground city.
During the scary days of the Cold War, the UK was on the front line of a nuclear holocaust in the event the Cold War turned hot. The United Kingdom feared a nuclear attack and so built an emergency government war headquarters which was to serve as the country’s alternate seat of power.
In the United States, the same thing was happening. The emergency fallout shelter for members of Congress is now known to have been a massive bunker beneath The Greenbrier – which can be visited today.
The background and size of the Burington bunker
The urban explorer says of the Burington Bunker:
“Beneath the Corsham Cotswalds, some eighty feet below RAF Corsham, lies the largest underground bunker in the UK and, for sixty years, one of the best kept secrets in modern MOD history. . Burlington Bunker.”
The Central Government War Headquarters (or Burington Bunker) covered an area of 35 acres or 14 hectares and was 120 feet or 37 meters underground. It is located in Corsham, England in an old stone quarry in Bath (called Spring Quarry).
- The biggest: It is the largest (known) underground bunker in the UK
- Code name: Burlington
The site predates the Cold War and dates from World War II. During the war in 1940, the Minister of Aeronautical Production acquired it and used it as an underground engine factory.
- THE SECOND WORLD WAR: Was used as an underground engine factory
It was built as part of the British government‘s Plan B in the late 1950s. It was where the British government would try to survive the worst-case scenario of nuclear bombs raining down on London. It was designed to be a real underground city and was proof against bombs, radiation and poison gas.
- Outmoded: The Cuban Missile Crisis showed that the bunker was obsolete
Unfortunately for the British, but right after it was built, it was obsolete. With the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, it was realized that the site was vulnerable to intercontinental ballistic missiles targeting it. The British soon came up with other plans (like PYTHON) where they scattered their emergency government centers in places like submarines, castles and even car ferries.
Burlington Bunker Facilities
It was built to accommodate up to 4,000 government personnel in the event of a nuclear strike. It was more than just a bunker, it was a massive complex over a mile long and had about 60 miles of underground roads.
- Capacity: Up to 4,000 government employees
- Accommodate: It was designed to accommodate the Prime Minister, the entire Cabinet, civil servants and domestic support staff
- Endurance: This could sustain the government for up to 3 months in complete isolation
- Roads: 60 miles of underground routes
It was designed to be fully self-contained and able to support the government for at least 3 months in complete isolation.
It had all the facilities necessary to be fully self-sufficient, including laundries, offices, a hospital, cafeterias, kitchens, Britain’s largest telephone exchange, a television studio (where the surviving government could make public speeches), hospitals, etc.
- Discovered: It was discovered in 1982 by journalist Duncan Campbell in his book UK war plan
- Commissioned: In 1955 (after Prime Minister Anthony Eden’s approval)
- Operational: For 30 years
In the event of an evacuation to the bunker, the Prime Minister was expected to remain in Downing Street in London until the last moment before being airlifted there by helicopter.
There were “special accommodation” suites in Area 17. These were larger rooms and private bathrooms (a luxury in a survival bunker). It is believed that these suites were intended for the royal family.
The Burington Wine Cellar today
In 1989, part of the sprawling complex was sold to Octave wines to be used as storage for wines that need a constant level of temperature and humidity. In 2012, there were some 12 million bottles of wine worth over £1 billion (well over $1 billion) there.
- Wine cellar: Today the Burlington bunker is used as a wine cellar
Curiously, a portion of the unused complex that was not used to store bottles of wine was taken over by the Ministry of Defense and kept on hold.
The rest of the site was decommissioned in 2005.
Instead of housing the British Prime Minister, it appears the Birchington Bunker was intended to house bottles of wine.
Today, parts of the Burington Bunker house Cold War memorials, including the Prime Minister’s bedrooms and operating rooms. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like they are open to the public now, maybe they will be in the future.
People worried about surviving an impending apocalysis today can rent luxury survival shelters in South Dakota at Vivos xPoint (and there are other locations around the world as well).
Next: Berlin was once home to a maze of over 1,000 bunkers, and many are open to the public today
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