During 1990 Merseyside County Main Emergency Centre was relocated to protected accommodation in ‘King Arthur’s Room’ in the basement of Bootle Town Hall in Oriel Road. During the 1980’s Merseyside Main had been located in the basement of the Walker Art gallery in the City centre. The abolition of Merseyside County Council in 1986 had meant that the Museum Service was no longer a local government service, and the newly formed National Museums & Galleries on Merseyside (NMGM) required the former County Main accommodation at the Walker Art Gallery for their own (different) purposes.
Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council agreed to the newly formed Merseyside Fire & Civil Defence Authority Emergency Planning Unit (MFCDA) utilising unused basement accommodation at Bootle Town Hall to house Merseyside County Main. Liverpool City Council’s Architects drew up plans in 1989 to create a fully operational County Main EC to incorporate not only Home Office ECN equipment but plant room, communications room, radio room, water tank room, dormitory, kitchen, controllers room and three liaison rooms.
Only the cabling, trays, and earthing requirements for Home Office radio equipment in the radio room was ever fitted over and above the usual County Main fit of SX2000 switchboard plus Faraday cage and Autex 1600 CMX. In addition a “non standard” addition of a private wire and Autex 100 kit at the Emergency Planning Unit’s offices in Liverpool was fed from this location. The Home Office moratorium on Emergency Centres ensured no further development took place at Bootle. Locally and with the Home Office, this location was referred to as Merseyside EC1.
After the Home Secretary’s 1992 announcement regarding the removal of the Chernikeef CMX it was decided to abandon the concept of a County Main EC, and the SX2000 in its Faraday cage was relocated to Merseyside Fire Service HQ in Liverpool where it still functions. Links to all the 5 MBC TSX50 switchboards are now routed via this switchboard, are functioning and are tested remotely. Today King Arthur’s Room is used for storage but three teleprinter tables are still in place along with much of the uncompleted wiring loom around the room. There are also numerous papers relating to the emergency centre.
During the war the Town Hall basement was probably used as a Civil Defence Control Centre and at the end of a corridor close by is a long rectangular room (approximately 60’ X 14’) that was used as a decontamination and cleansing station. There is an airlock at each end of the room consisting of two gas tight doors, one of them has ‘Air Lock’ painted on it. On the wall there is a sign that says ‘Undressing room - Remove underclothing and place in bins’
Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford , Keith Ward , Rod Siebert, John Fogg and Robin Ware.