Site Records

Site Name: Cardiff (Coryton) Regional War Room
(Region 8)/Cardiff Corporation Control

Cardiff, South Glamorgan
OS Grid Ref: ST141812

RSG site visit 8th July 2003

[Source: Nick Catford]

The Cardiff War Room was located at the rear of the Wales and the Marches Telecom Board HQ at Coryton close to Junction 32 of the M4 motorway. The site was sold to a property developer and the office block and the war room were demolished at the end of 2003.

Coryton was one of 13 Regional War Rooms built in 1952 to house the regional administration for Wales in the event of a devastating nuclear attack on Whitehall making central government impossible. It remained operational until approximately 1958 when the network of Regional War Rooms were replaced by the Regional Seats of Government; Coryton being replaced by RSG 8 at Brecon. The old war room was retained as a training centre for RSG personnel until 1965 when it was reactivated as the Cardiff Corporation Main Control Centre. It performed this function until the disbanding of the Civil Defence Corps in 1968.

Photo: Cardiff War Room in March 2000
Photo by Nick Catford

With the formation of South Glamorgan County in 1974, it was reactivated as the South Glamorgan County Control and later South Glamorgan Emergency Centre remaining in use until the end of the cold war in 1991.

After that date the building was abandoned and once the ventilation plant was switched off the bunker deteriorated quickly and is now very damp with standing water on the lower floor. At the time of our visit there was no more than half and inch but after periods of wet weather it can be several inches. Power and water to the bunker is now disconnected.

Upper floor plan
Drawn by Nick Catford

The building is of the standard Regional War Room design with one floor above ground and one floor underground. Only that at Newcastle (Kenton) differs as it utilises a former WW2 Sector Operations Centre (SOC). London is divided into four regions each with a single story war room and Glasgow also has a single level war room (East Kilbride) being a sub region of the main Scotland war room at Kirknewton. The other war rooms were at Tunbridge Wells, Reading, Cambridge, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds, Belfast, Birmingham and Bristol. Of the two level bunkers only that at Tunbridge Wells has been demolished (1997) and possibly Manchester (Cheadle) where demolition was expected in 2003.

Members of Subterranea Britannica have now been allowed into all the sites except the Northern Ireland War Room at Mount Eden Park which is a secure document store and Newcastle which was cleared of asbestos a few years ago and a visit is expected later this year.

In recent years local children have broken into the Cardiff war room but there is little internal damage although all external walls are now covered with colourful wall art. The following paragraphs describe the inside of the building as it appears in 2003. The plant rooms, toilets etc. are much as they would have been in 1952 but the rest of the rooms are laid out for their most recent use as the South Glamorganshire County Emergency Centre.

Lower Floor Plan
Drawn by Nick Catford

We entered through the wooden door in the west wall which has now has a steel grille added in front of it for extra security. Beyond this there is a dogleg and a heavy steel blast door giving access to the upper ring corridor. The first room on the right is the male toilet with three WC cubicles, four hand basins four urinals, a shower and two hot water heaters.

Moving round the ring corridor in a clockwise direction (left) there are stairs down to the lower floor with a double water tank above. The first room on the left contains cable hauled message basket system down to the floor below; unfortunately the mechanism for this is now broken and the basket is resting at the lower level. The mechanism consists of a wire basket and a system of ropes and pulleys for lowering the basket to the lower corridor. The basket locks in position in the upper room but can be released by pulling on the rope from below. The system is manufactured by Lamson who are better known for the 'Lamson Tube' a pneumatic message handling system used in many government buildings and still used in some department stores. Similar message baskets still exist at the Bristol, Leeds & Birmingham war rooms.

Beyond this is the 'County Military Headquarters' with the floor now strewn with wooden debris and wire mesh. The third room on the left is a radio room with two heavy duty cables going out through the roof and a radio workbench across the far wall. Ventilation trunking enters this room from the adjacent room and then runs down through the floor to the lower level. The next room at the corner of the ring corridor is the mens dormitory with four rows of two double bunks and an electric heater on the wall. There is a very narrow walkway beween the rows of bunks and no lockers or space for them.

Photo: The kitchen
Drawn by Nick Catford

The corridor now turns to the right into one of the largest rooms in the bunker, the canteen and kitchen. There is a large serving counter and food preparation table a few feet in front of the near end wall, there are five open bays beneath it. Behind this is a Belling electric cooker and oven and next to it a mini Belling oven and a Creda water heater. There's a Butler sink with a wooden draining board on each side and a wooden plate rack above it.

In the canteen area there are tables and chairs, a double metal cupboard, six hay boxes (containers for delivering trays of hot food). There are also a large number of cooking pots and pans on the floor and a four shelf glass fronted bookcase containing recreational books and some civil defence books.

For further information and pictures click here

[Source: Nick Catford]


home.gif Home Page
Last updated 23rd March 2004

© 1998-2004 Subterranea Britannica