Site Records

Site Name: Tottenham Borough Control

Tottenham Town Hall
Town Hall Approach Road
London, N15

RSG site visit 18th December 2001

[Source: Nick Catford]

The former Tottenham Borough Control is located below a disused council depot at the rear of Tottenham Town Hall. The depot consists of a square of Edwardian workshops and stables with a cobbled courtyard and a raised covered platform in the centre that was used for storage. The depot, which closed in about 1990 is in a very dilapidated state with most of the buildings now roofless. It is contained within a secure compound between the Town Hall and the railway line and is due for redevelopment in 2003.

At one side of the raised platform is the site of the main entrance which consisted of a small blockhouse with steps down into the bunker. (similar to Dagenham and Stoke Newington). The blockhouse has been removed and the stair well infilled with concrete but its position is clear. There is a small air vent to one side. The boundaries of the bunker are probably defined by a change in the concrete in the centre of the platform. At one corner there is an emergency exit shaft which has been capped with concrete.

Following our initial visit to the site in February 2001 we sought offical permission to re-open the emergency exit. It was impossible to say whether the original manhole cover had been covered with a thin skin of concrete or whether the shaft had been completely filled with concrete or partially filled with rubble first. We approached the council for permission to excavate the bunker and as we had the relevant insurance this was granted on the condition that the bunker was immediately resealed

Photo: Spine corridor
Photo: Spine corridor
Photo by Nick Catford

We were able to remove the concrete cap revealing an ROC style hatch over a 10 foot shaft. The hatch lifted easily and having tested the air at the bottom of the shaft we descended the ladder into the bunker carefully checking the air quality in each room. The bunker is very shallow, the roof being no more than a foot or so below the raised platform and slightly above the level of the surrounding ground. At the bottom of the stairs is a gas tight door which opens into a small room with wooden shelving along one wall. On the inside of the door is the wording 'Emergency Escape - Air Tight Door'.

The far side of the room opens onto the north - south spine corridor which is about 60 feet in length. There are six rooms on the right and three on the left. The first room on the left is the largest and would have been the 'Control Room'; it has been completely stripped as have most of the rooms. All that remains is a thermostat on the wall and a message passing hatch into the 'Signals Room' beyond.

Photo: Signals Room
Photo: Signals Room
Photo by Nick Catford

The 'Signals Room' has wooden and Dexion shelving around three walls and after closure was obviously used for storage. There are four acoustic booths along the fourth wall and above these two GPO junction boxes and some multi core cables. The final room on the left was probably the 'Controllers Room' and was accessed through a small lobby which was the main entrance into the bunker. The entrance doorway is securely bricked up, its gas tight door having been removed.

From the emergency exit end, the first two rooms on the right are completely empty apart from half a bath and were, perhaps a dormitory and canteen/rest room. The next room is a toilet with one step up from the main corridor. It is unclear which is the male and which is the female toilet as there is no urinal. Each room contains three booths (with all the pans filled with concrete to stop rats entering the bunker after sealing), two wash basins and a mirror. Each of the two toilets is 'L' shaped and in the space between the two toilets created by the short entrance corridors ( the arms of the 'L' shaped room) is a small kitchen. A Butler sink, cold water tank and a water heater remains, there is also an electric cooker point.

The final room is the plant room. This is still largely intact with the intake and exhaust ventilation trunking, fans, motors and electrical switch gear still there. Unfortunately the standby generator has been removed although a concrete plinth indicates its position. There is a small cupboard under the entrance stairs and a narrow ten foot long dead end passage on the end wall which must have acted as another cupboard or storage area. There are 3 disabled persons body hoists in the room.

The bunker is damp but there is no water on the floor. The green painted wooden doors to the rooms are all in place although the wood is rotting. Ventilation trunking runs down the spine corridor and into each of these rooms.

The bunker was built about 1954 and in use as Tottenham Borough Control until the disbanding of the Civil Defence Corps in 1968. In 1971 it was being used for storage and probably eventually sealed some time in the 1980's.

When the site is redeveloped it is going to be used for community purposes and the area above the bunker will be an open court yard. Despite the high cost of demolition council architects feel there is no way that the bunker could be incorporated into their plans and it will probably have to be demolished.

Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford, Robin Ware, Alan Lawrence, Caroline Ford, Bob Jenner, Ian Bolton, Bob Clary and John Lawall

[Source: Nick Catford]

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