Cold War Bunkers
by Nick Catford

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Folly Books Ltd (15 Nov 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 0956440525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956440525
  • Dimensions: 25.4 x 25.1 x 3 cm

The normal price for this book is £24.99 plus postage but you can buy it here for just £23 including postage. For overseas rates see below.

For more than forty Cold-War years the United Kingdom played the role, in the words of the eminent investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, of America’s Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier. Tethered ideologically, economically and militarily to the United States as a more-or-less willing participant in that country’s forward defence strategy, the United Kingdom, her population and all her military, civil and cultural infrastructure, was exposed to the risk of nuclear obliteration.

To counter the threats that the British Government had focussed upon the nation by its blind subservience to American foreign policy, its landscape became littered by the densest proliferation of nuclear bunkers anywhere in the western world, built to protect key elements of Britain’s military and administrative establishment. There were bunkers for anti-aircraft gun and radar control, military command and control centres, central and regional government and all the tiers of local government. There were more than 1500 bunkers for the Royal Observer Corps and UKWMO, along with telecommunications bunkers, and bunkers for all the major public utilities.

Almost all of these bunkers are now abandoned. Some have been demolished, either quickly because they offered ripe development potential, or else more slowly at the hands of vandals and arsonists. Many others are being slowly reclaimed by nature while others still, in rural areas, have found more ignominious uses as cow sheds or rough storage for agricultural implements.

The threat of a nuclear strike by the Eastern Bloc, which drove the construction of these underground refuges, has long since faded. The deterrence of Mutual Assured Destruction meant that none of the structures were ever used in anger. The Cold War was a virtual war, with no battles and few victims; a war, arguably, with only victors and no losers. As such, there are no memorials in the conventional sense to the years of preparation for what never came. But the bunkers in this book themselves stand as monuments to this period and to the provision of what may, in the final analysis, have offered no more than a ringside seat for the complete annihilation of the United Kingdom.

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Regional War Rooms
Chapter 3: Regional Government Headquarters
Chapter 4: The Rotor Radar System
Chapter 5: Radar Control & Reporting Centres
Chapter 6: Anti-Aircraft Operations Rooms
Chapter 7: Royal Observer Corps Group Headquarters
Chapter 8: Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Posts
Chapter 9: Channel Islands Civil Protection
Chapter 10: Telecommunications Bunkers
Chapter 11: Public Utility Bunkers
Chapter 12: Military Control Bunkers
Chapter 13: Central Government War Headquarters
Chapter 14: Local Authority Bunkers
Chapter 15: Private Bunkers

439 photos, maps and plans. All in colour

Review by Andrew Smith

Nearly all of take pictures of underground sites, be they bunkers, caves, tunnels or other subterranean folly – but how many of us actually do something with those images. Many place pictures on publically accessible web sites but Sub Brit Membership Secretary and former professional photographer has gone one step further and published his own book containing the most detailed photographic study of the bunkers of Great Britain, ever.

Neatly divided into sections covering each type of the principal types of bunker in the UK, this hardback, photograph rich, coffee table book provides a comprehensive study of everything from the Utility bunkers to a Royal Observer Corps post. A section also covers Civil Defence on the Channel Islands.

Unsurprisingly, there is an extensive on the ‘Holy Grail’ of bunkers – the former Central Government War Headquarters beneath Corsham in Wiltshire. From Wick in Scotland to Hope Cove in Devon, I hate to think of the number of miles Nick clocked up covering the length and breadth of the country.

Those familiar with Nick’s work will know that his photography is of the highest level and the images in this book don’t disappoint. The images cover everything from plant rooms to blast doors, Elsan toilets to emergency exits.

The final section of the book looks briefly at a small selection of private bunkers.

Without doubt this is a very comprehensive picture essay of some of the finest bunkers in the UK, including a number that are now demolished or converted to other uses such as private residences. A worthy addition to any book collection and high on my Christmas list!

OVERSEAS POSTAGE RATES: This is a very heavy book hence the high overseas postage rate.

Europe total cost £30
Rest of the world total cost £40

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Last updated: 16 12 2011
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