On the first sunny day in what seemed like months I managed to escape to the country, but rather than going for a stroll in the fresh spring air, enjoy the blue sky and watch deer grazing on the side of a hill, I decided it would make sense to go underground. 15 feet underground. Into a nuclear bunker.
The Broadway Tower nuclear bunker to be precise. Built in 1959 and finally decommissioned in 1991, the bunker was built for the Royal Observer Corps - to analyze the effects of a potential nuclear attack - reporting on radiation, blast strength, fallout and triangulating ground zero etc.
As I clambered down the 15ft ladder into the bunker I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but I didn't imagine was just how basic and cramped the quarters were for the four men or women who would have to remain inside the bunker for up to 3 weeks following a nuclear attack.
Nonetheless, it was a fascinating experience (not recommended for the claustrophobic however) - and here are a smattering of photos... taken on my phone, so sorry about the rather ropey quality!
Clambering down the ladder into the bunker - note the Broadway Tower in the background!
Draughts. Plus the radio for reporting findings following a nuclear blast. I suspect it wasn't that well thought through though as it seems a member of the team had to leave the security of the bunker to raise the aerial.
Time for a snooze? Snuggle up though, two beds between four...
Mmm rations. Usually eaten cold as the cookers made the air foul.
That is it - I am standing pressed up against one wall, looking at the other wall. Not exactly spacious.
Still, when the world is going to hell above you, breakout the tea, the stiff upper lip and have a game of darts. Sure to cheer up the gloomiest of moments!
There were hundreds of these posts across the country, all manned by volunteers. Wikipedia has a useful list of the sites. While the brilliant Subterranea Britannica has a bit more information. And a bit more about the Broadway Tower site. And if you fancy visiting the site, pop on here - the views from the Tower are spectacular! If you want to tour the bunker though, you should probably ring ahead, tours are not always running.