The Drakelow underground complex was first built as a `shadow factory' by the Ministry of Aircraft Production. Construction and installation work lasted from 1941 to 1943.
The idea was that if Rover's factories (which made aero engines) were bombed, production could be moved to this protected site instead. Also, part of the site was used by the RAF for storage.
The photograph shows one of eight entrances to the 285,000 ft2 network of tunnels and galleries.
During the 1950s the site was used by the Ministry of Supply for storage.
In about 1958 part of the site was developed by the Home Office as a Regional Seat of Government (RSG9). Under later Home Defence schemes the bunker was designated a Sub-Regional Control (SRC), Sub-Regional Headquarters (SRHQ) and finally Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ). The site was greatly modernised in the early 1980s.
In about 1990 there was a plan to move the RGHQ to a much smaller bunker, formerly used by UKWMO, at Lawford Heath near Rugby. In the end this never happened, and the Drakelow site was decommissioned and sold in around 1993.
The site is now in private ownership. It is not open to the public, although Subterranea Britannica has been able to arrange occasional group visits for members. Some of the tunnels cannot be explored because of bad air and the risk of the huge ventilation ducts collapsing.
You can see some photographs taken during Sub Brit's visit in August 1998.
Drakelow Unearthed by Paul Stokes
Last updated 5th January 1999
© 1997, 1999 Subterranea Britannica