Thursday, February 12

The Kelvedon Hatch Click for more info

Deep in Ongar ways there's a not-so-secret nuclear bunker, originally built to house the Prime Minister in times of war. It was functioning in some role or another all the way up to 1994 (presumably they've built a more swish place for our heads of state now), but is now privately owned and open to the public. Interestingly though it can still be activated at any time - amusingly there was a colour status thing on the outside indicating that the country was at level "Special Black", which isn't the colour for peace.

It was pretty much what you'd expect from a pre-war building - dingy and dank, with that smell of rotting dust in the air. It didn't feel as deep as I expected as we took the long sloping corridor down to the lowest level of three. We saw the radio stations, the emergency broadcast rooms and communications and operations facilities; most of it was tarted up with shabby props and the like, but you could still imagine the history there. I was especially impressed by the fail-safe and redundant communication infrastructure they had at that time; pretty ironic since I assume back then it might have been seen as a waste of taxpayers money, just like similar initiatives are seen as now.

War rooms, dormitories and medical centres made up the rest of the place, the building capable of housing 600 of the most important people in the country. All in all it was a decent way to spend a couple of hours; one of those things with enough character to give you a feel of the history it represents.

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