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
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.
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.
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).
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,
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
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.
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
Last updated 23rd March 2004
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