Hampshire’s only purpose built underground control centre was constructed in 1963 at Somerford, on the outskirts of Christchurch. It consisted of a 6 room bunker with a single storey civil defence training centre built on the surface above it in Bingham Road, close to the junction with Somerford Road.
It is located next door to the ambulance station and has a two bay civil defence garage on the opposite side of Bingham Road. It was built as a Hampshire County Council and County Borough of Bournemouth Area Control. The training centre closed in 1968 with the disbanding of the Civil defence Corps and the site was given to the education department. The control centre remained on care and maintenance, finally closing about 1974. The building now houses the Somerford Youth and Education Centre with the youth club using the bunker as a meeting room and gym.
Entrance to the bunker is down a flight of stairs accessed from the lobby of the former training centre. Both the door at the top of the stairs and those at the bottom are ordinary wooden doors with no gas seals. At the bottom of the stairs a door on the right opens into the Control Room and straight ahead is the plant room. This has been stripped of all its plant but there is still a concrete plinth where the standby generator stood; there are also some cables on the wall and a GPO junction box. Although the ventilation plant has been removed the ventilation trunking still runs from this room around the bunker and up the stairs.
The control room is the largest in the bunker; it is completely empty apart from a few modern chairs and an original fire alarm on the wall.
The first room on the right is the signals room which originally had five acoustic booths along the far wall. Two booths are still in place as is a light above each of the five positions. The room is now used for storage, mainly food drink and bicycles. There is a large message passing window into the adjacent room. The original purpose of this room is not certain (probably the agency room) and it now houses gym equipment. There is a message passing window in the door from the control room.
At the far side of the control room is a short open corridor with one room on the left and another at the end. There is a message passing window in each of the doors into these rooms and another in the wall between them. There is no evidence to confirm what the rooms were used for (possibly Controllers Room and Scientific Advisors Room) and they are now used for storage.
There is no evidence of a kitchen, toilets or dormitory in the bunker and there appears to be no emergency exit.
Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford and Keith Ward.