Site Records

Site Name: Chichester - West Sussex County Emergency Centre

County Hall
West Sussex
[Source: Nick Catford]

The West Sussex County Emergency Centre is not a bunker in the true sense of the word as it has no blast protection and little evidence of any strengthening. It was built in the 1960's in the basement of County Hall. The main access point is down a narrow flight of stairs immediately behind the main reception desk. At the bottom of the stairs there is a short corridor and an ordinary wooden door without even a gas seal leading directly into the large 'L' shaped control room. This has the usual array of local maps and resources boards around the walls and tables and chairs arranged in two circles in the centre. It can if required be divided into two rooms with a heavy curtain.

Photo: Control Room
Photo by Nick Catford

The main entrance is into the short arm of the 'L' to the right a door leads into the plant area consisting of a workshop, electrical switchgear and a set of French windows giving access directly into the rear service area where the standby generator is located; this is a large portable unit that has been in place since the Emergency centre was opened. Beyond the French windows, the room narrows down into a service tunnel running around the entire building. Adjacent to the electrical switchgear are two doors, one a stairway to the floor above and the other the ventilation plant room which also contains a rack or emergency lead acid batteries. On the opposite side of the control room a door opens into a short corridor with two rooms on the left and a further door on the right back into the long arm of the 'L' shaped control room. The first room on the left is used for training and the second room on the left is the communications room with the now redundant county radio network (two Pye transceivers) and various computer terminals. In the event of a small emergency requiring no more than the 6 man emergency planning team, this would be used as the control room. During times of emergency the six man team can swell to as many as 40.

West Sussex no longer use radios, relying instead on mobile phones but a small room accessed from the communications room is used by Raynet. On the far side of the main control room are two further doors, one another emergency exit through the service tunnels and the other a small room containing the SX2000 County Emergency Communications Network (ECN) in its Faraday cage. There are no toilets in the basement although a chemical toilet is stored in a cupboard (Unclear where it would have been installed). A room in the basement was set aside as a dormitory although never equipped with beds and the centre shares a kitchen, also located in the basement, with the rest of the building. While many Emergency Centres were updated and modernised in the 1980's in line with new government thinking that at Chichester wasn't as there was no government grant made available so the centre remains much as it was when it was opened in the 1960's.

Last updated 28th September 2003

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