Site Records

St.Austell: Restormel Borough Emergency Centre

Restormel Borough Council offices
Penwinnick Road

RSG Site Visit: 4th September 2000

[Source: Nick Catford]

Following a very successful and enjoyable two day conference (field trips and lectures) in Plymouth organised by the Fortress Study Group, three members of Sub Brit, myself, Keith Ward & Peter Cobb went west in to Cornwall to look at some of the counties cold war and WW2 sites. Our first port of call was St.Austell where the county EPO Steve Winston was our guide at the Restormel Borough Emergency Centre. It is located in the basement of the Restormel Borough Council offices in Penwinnick Road, St. Austell, Cornwall, under the southeast corner of the building.

The bunker was constructed at the same time as the offices in 1982 and was refurbished in 1987. It is designed to have a staff of 14 and is still fully equipped taking part in local and regional exercises when required.

The main entrance is from the public car park to the north of the building where an unprotected entrance doorway leads down three steps, to the right is an emergency store room and to the left a 1 foot thick concrete blast door leads into the bunker proper. The first room entered is the decontamination room, to the right another heavy blast door leads to the generator room where the standby generator is still in place and regularly tested. The room is also used for storage.

Photo: Communications room
Photo by Nick Catford

From the decontamination room another heavy blast door leads into a small lobby and then into the main operations room which is laid out conference style with two lines of chairs at the back and a projector screen and local maps displayed at the front. Opposite the door to the lobby another door leads into the communications room, which is sub-divided into two rooms. The larger room has a number of radio transceivers and computer terminals on tables around two walls including an area used by the local RAYNET.

Photo: BBC Studio
Photo by Nick Catford

The smaller room contains the government telephone exchange and unusually for a local authority bunker a small radio 'studio' supplied and maintained by the BBC. This consists of a 5-channel mixer, microphone and telephone surrounded by a small soundproofed housing similar to that placed round external telephones. There are glass panels in front of the microphone looking into the communications room.

A third doorway leads out of the operations room into a short corridor with two toilet blocks on the right-hand side containing unused chemical toilets and a dormitory on the left hand side which still contains four metal framed twin bunk beds with mattresses stacked to one side. This room is also used for storage but one set of bunks is kept clear in case they should be required at short notice. At the end of the corridor is the kitchen with all the usual appliances including cooker, microwave, fridge and hand pumped water and waste disposal.

From the kitchen another door leads into the ventilation plant room, which still retains all its plant in good order. There are two small concrete blast doors two feet up one wall. One leads to the air filters and the seconds leads into a small concrete lined room from where there is a 20 foot horizontal concrete pipe leading to a ladder and the emergency escape hatch at the back of the council offices.

[Source: Nick Catford]

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Last updated 21st March 2001

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