Site Records


Site Name: Witney - West Oxfordshire District Council Emergency Centre

Wood Green
Witney
Oxfordshire
OS Grid Ref: SP360106

RSG site visit 14th January 2003

[Source: Nick Catford]

The West Oxfordshire District Council bunker lies in the basement and partly under the road of the 1988 extension to the council offices in Woodgreen in Witney. It's no longer in use as an emergency centre but still remains largely intact and in its original condition. The entrance to the bunker is through an air lock in the basement consisting of two offset steel and concrete blast doors. The inner door has two pressure release valves alongside. Once inside the 'L' shaped bunker there is a short corridor into a large 'L' shaped room.

Photo: The Control Room
Photo by Nick Catford

The first room on the right of the corridor is the unisex toilet with two flushing WC cubicles, two hand basins and a shower. The next room on the right is the combined 'kitchen and canteen'. This has cupboards around two walls, above a work and food preparation surface which also has cupboards beneath it. There is a Creda Starlight cooker, Tricity fridge, stainless steel draining board and sink and two water tanks. Tables and chairs are stacked at one end of the room. On the other side of the corridor the first room on the left was originally the 'dormitory' and still retains its wooden bunk beds, there are two quad bunks and a double bunk. In later years while the emergency centre was still in use it was downgraded to a store room. The second room on the left is the 'emergency planning store' and next to it a room that is sub divided into two. On the left hand side is the SX 50 ECN unit and it's associated cabinets and control equipment; this is still operating. The other side of the room is the 'Computer call logger'. There are two further rooms on the left hand side of the corridor which at this point opens out into the large 'L' shaped. The two rooms are the 'radio room' which was also used by Raynet and the 'Chief Executive Controller's office'. The 'L' shaped room would have been used by 'Welfare' and 'Media' and in the centre of the room the 'Call Reception and information team' and a help desk. There are still tables around the wall in this area with the telephones.

West Oxfordshire District Council Emergency Centre
Plan drawn by Dan McKenzie

On the far side of the room a door opens into the 'Control Room' which would have housed the senior co-ordination team and their support staff. It is now used for IT training and at the back of this room a door leads into an IT server room. At the back of the control room is a 'briefing and rest room', there are also sockets here for some reserve aerials. At the back of this room is the 'ventilation plant room'.

Back in the 'L' shaped room there is another heavy blast door at the far end that opens into a short corridor where there is another WC cubicle and a large multi person decontamination shower. The corridor then turns through 90 degrees towards the emergency exit. On the left there is a gas tight door into a tiny filter room and on the right the 'standby generator room' with it's Zurich Hareh generator in place and looking brand new. There is also a fuel tank alongside.

Photo: Cover over the emergency exit
Photo by Nick Catford

The emergency exit blast door is at the end of the corridor. It has sandbags piled against the bottom of it suggesting that it gets flooded behind it. Beyond the door stairs lead up coming out to the surface on the far side of the access road to the council offices. There is an elaborate cover on rails over the top of the stairs that can be pushed away when access is required. This has not been seen at any other British bunker but is very similar to the movable covers on Stasi bunkers in East Germany. As the main decontamination shower is close to the emergency exit this may have been intended as the main entrance in times of tension accounting for the elaborate cover. There is a ventilation stack alongside the entrance.

Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford , Keith Ward and Andrew Smith.



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Last updated 1st March 2003

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