Site Records

Site Name: Edinburgh City Control

Buckstone Grove
[Source: Nick Catford]

Edinburgh City Control was built in 1955 in a disused quarry at the end of Buckstone Drive, a cul-de-sac at Fairmilehead on the southern outskirts of the city. It remained in use until 1968 when the Civil Defence Corps was disbanded and was, in theory, reactivated in the 1980's. Edinburgh City Council was however hard left wing and saw no need for a control centre so few modifications were made apart from the installation of new phone lines and although it remained available for use the council denied they had a control centre. Edinburgh also had a sub-control located in the council yard at the rear of Barnton Quarry.

Today the quarry which is owned by the City Parks department is overgrown and the City Control lies abandoned and forgotten. The surface building consists of a rectangular windowless concrete blockhouse with one corner cut out and a slightly hipped roof. There is a short section of blast wall protecting the steel door that forms the main entrance into the bunker.

Photo: The bunker
Photo: The bunker
Photo by Nick Catford

Once inside the door, a short dog leg passage leads into an 'L' shaped corridor. At the near end of the corridor to the right is the 'GPO room' which is now full of rubbish. Alongside this is the 'Plant Room' which appears to be intact containing ventilation plant and trunking, electrical switchgear and a standby generator. Little thought was given to fallout protection as there is a small open grille high in the wall with daylight coming through it. There is a small GPO rack on the wall just outside the room.

Back in the main corridor the first room on the left is the kitchen. Most of the partition wall between the corridor and the kitchen has fallen away. The room is still fully equipped with water heater, sink, cooker, shelves, cupboards, preparation surface, serving counter and a large stock of crockery. On the other side of the counter is the canteen with one long table and a number of chairs. A door on the far side leads to the male toilet with a sink and WC cubicle and out the other side into the far end of the 'L' shaped corridor.

Drawn by Nick Catford

At the end of this corridor is the smaller ladies toilet with another sink and WC cubicle. Three other rooms are entered from the shorter arm of the corridor. One is a narrow messengers room with a table and a small window back into the corridor with a message basket sitting below it on the table. There is also a Gestetner type duplicator on the floor. Another room is largely empty and the third room, probably the 'Controllers Room' still retains a number of table and chairs and a clock on the wall stopped at 8.45. There is a large window looking into the adjacent control room, a number of papers and forms in drawers and a number of maps lying on the floor. These include 1" ordnance survey maps of Scotland and maps of Edinburgh showing warden and sector posts. There is also a UKWMO post 1968 map of the UK showing ROC posts, groups and clusters.

The control room itself is to the right at the end of the long arm of the corridor. It is the largest room in the bunker with a supporting pillar in the middle and windows into two adjacent rooms, one of which is also accessed from the main corridor. One of the rooms is stacked with desks, tables and chairs, there is also a crate containing a Secomec hand operated siren. The emergency exit is also located in this room, consisting of a single door in the back wall of the bunker.

Photo: The signals room
Photo: The signals room
Photo by Nick Catford

The second room, the 'signals room' has long tables along two walls. On a shelf above one of the tables there is a teleprinter interface unit and another item of communications equipment. There is a large map of Edinburgh mounted on a wall board which shows warden and sector posts etc.

Throughout the bunker is damp and strewn with rubbish and items of furniture. The ventilation trunking runs into each room. Although two of the padlocks on the entrance door had been cut (now replaced) there appears to have been little or no vandalism. The future of the bunker is unclear, the council might consider selling or leasing but as the internal condition is so poor they might find it difficult to find someone to take it on.

Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford, Keith Ward, Jason Blackiston, Dougie O'Hara, Andy White, Nigel Knapton, Ward Westwater and Caroline Westwater

Historical research by Keith Ward. My thanks to Ward and Caroline Westwater of the Civil Defence & Emergency Service Trust for arranging the visit to the Edinburgh City Control. Edinburgh City Council have made it clear they will allow no further visits to the Control on health and safety grounds.

home.gif Home Page
Last updated 2nd April 2002

© 1998-2002 Subterranea Britannica