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Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker
- Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker
- Alt Name:
- Secret Nuclear Bunker
- United Kingdom
- Cold War
- Northern Europe
- 1900AD - 1999AD
- Kelvedon Hatch
about Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker
The Kelvedon Hatch Nuclear Bunker is an enormous Cold War-era subterranean shelter and former operations centre in Brentwood, Essex.
In 1952, the spectre of the Cold War loomed ever-more menacingly over Britain. With Europe already firmly divided into two hostile and ideologically opposed camps, and with the Korean War raging in East Asia, the nuclear arms race which had begun at the end of the Second World War became increasingly frenetic. In October 1952, Britain, strategically and ideologically aligned with the United States of America, became the third country to test successfully an independently developed nuclear bomb.
It was against this terrifying backdrop that construction work began on the Kelvedon Hatch secret nuclear bunker. The subterranean space, just 25 miles northeast of London, was first used as an RAF ROTOR station. ROTOR, a project initiated by the British Government in the early 1950s, was a complex air defence radar system which sought to repel potential attacks from Soviet bombers. The bunker then briefly became a Regional Seat of Government (RSG), before finally being turned into Essex’s Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ).
The Kelvedon Hatch bunker was designed to house up to 600 civilian and military personal, including the prime minister and other high-ranking cabinet officials. In the event of a nuclear attack, the centre’s tasks would have consisted of supplying protection to nearby Ministry of Defence workers, coordinating the survival of the local population, and continuing the operations of the government.
The three-storey bunker measures 27,000 square feet and extends 100 metres below ground level. Its walls are made of ten-foot-thick concrete reinforced by tungsten rods. The structure contains roughly 80 tons of genuine Cold War-period equipment: original plotting boards, telecommunications apparatus and 1980s-era computer equipment. It is also replete with its own BBC studio, office space, living quarters, kitchen and medical room. It also contains a canteen, where refreshments are served to modern day visitors.
In 1992, following the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the geostrategic realignment of Europe, Kelvedon Hatch nuclear bunker was decommissioned. The local Parish family, whose land had been requisitioned by the state in the 1950s in order to construct the site, bought the fields back from the Government. It has now been converted into a fascinating, privately owned museum.
Contributed by Maria Thomas
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Address: Kelvedon Hall Lane, Brentwood, Essex, CM14 5TL
Phone: +44 (0) 1277 364883
Road: The site can be accessed from the A128 ‘Chipping Ongar to Brentwood’ road at Kelvedon Hatch. If you have GPS, enter the postcode CM15 0LA and then follow the brown tourist signposts. From the M11: take the A414 (Chelmsford) to Ongar then the A128 to Brentwood. From the M25: at the interchange with the A12 (junction 28), take the A1023 to Brentwood and then the A128 to Ongar. Train: Take the train to Brentwood Station or Shenfield Mainline Train Station. From there, you can take a taxi (the distance is seven miles). From Brentwood you can catch the 501 Townlink bus to the site. Tube: Take the Central Line to Debden, Theydon Bois or Epping, and then a 7 mile taxi ride. There is also a bus service from Epping, which is the 501 Townlink bus.
Mar - Oct: Open daily 10am-4pm (5pm Sat/Sun). Nov - Feb: Open Thurs-Sun 10am-4pm. Adults: £7, Children (5-16 Years): £5, Family (2 Adults + 2 Children): £16.50 | Group Discount (15+): Adults £6.50 Child £4.50. Payment by cash only as credit and debit cards are not accepted.
There is a cafeteria on the site which serves light refreshments. At weekends, the cafeteria usually serves hot meals. Disabled access is limited, so the bunker’s staff should be contacted in advance sing the details given above.
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