York cold war bunker !!!
Situated a Mile from the City center, is the York cold War Bunker, surrounded by a suburb of houses the setting feels sort of strange as you are greeted by a huge green building, hiding below the steel structures in the ground are the operations rooms and living quarters. It can only be seen on a 1 hour guided tour, which is fab because you get to ask as many questions as you like. The York cold war bunker was built in 1961 at the height of the cold war and when public fear of nuclear war was at its height this was exacerbated by the uncertainty over the soviet intentions and the building of the Berlin wall and later by the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.
The main and most important part of the Bunker is the operations room. This room received information from the observation posts around the country and these were plotted and displayed, so that damage and fall out levels could be assessed and then the appropriate civil, public and military authorities could be warned. The operations room or head quarters would receive information from the 20 other observation posts around the country and from here they worked out to triangulate the blast’s location and calculate the power of the blast and its radio-active fallout’s spread and its impact.
Inside the operations room is all sort of geeky weird and wonderful equipment, It has all sorts of antiquated bits of stuff ( with the only AWDREY on display in the UK to analyze data), there are perspex maps A and B and if you where left handed you would be assigned the B map to plot what was on A as you could see it clearly at this produced a mirror image on the plotting boards . Other stuff included telephones, the old fax machine and a computer (nothing like what we have today)
The staff that where to man the york cold war Bunker where The Royal observation Corps or ROC for short and they would be summoned and would have to stay in the bunker when called for a period of 30 days should a nuclear attack be immanent. The quirky bits that we were told was that although the door would close and all the ROC corp be inside, one had to leave every 8 hours to go on top of the building and change the radio active paper. On arriving back they would go through the decontamination zone where there are 3 sinks and hoses attached to them, the idea is that you take of your clothes and put them in a hot box, and then wash to remove any radiation and then join the rest of the crew ( still radio active one would assume 😉
There is a brief video that explains the history of the cold war and also the effects of fall out, the effects of a nuclear explosion with light blast and thermal radiation which would devastate the immediate vicinity to ground zero. After the video you enter the dormitories where the crew would sleep and also the kitchen with its dried and very unappetizing foods as explained by the guide.
The Cold War can often seem a remote possibility today but The York cold war bunker was in use from 1961 right up until 1992 when the disintegration of the Soviet influenced Eastern bloc and the opening of the Berlin wall in 1989 and the eventual stand down of the ROC on 30 September 1991. What’s even more remarkable is that the York cold war bunker, and all the others across the country like it, were staffed almost entirely by civilian volunteers. A great place to visit !!!