Duncan Campbell’s ‘War Plan UK’ and other published material on post war emergency planning lists 13 Regional War Rooms, 11 of them consisting of a standard design two storey blockhouse, sometimes wholly on the surface and sometimes one floor below ground. The Newcastle Upon Tyne War Room differed as it utilised a former WW2 RAF underground control centre and London was divided into 4 (later 5) sub-regions, each having a single level war room. Another single level war room, outwardly identical to the standard two storey design has now come to light at East Kilbride to the South of Glasgow.
The Scottish Regional War Room (Region 11) was at Kirknewton to the South of Edinburgh but there was a proposal to divide Scotland into two zones with an Eastern Zone War Room near Edinburgh and a Western Zone War Room at East Kilbride. Kirknewton was built to the standard design while that at East Kilbride was like those in London, an above ground single storey blockhouse.
The Western Zone HQ was relocated about 1960 to the old AAOR at Torrance House, East Kilbride and in about 1962 the former war room was taken over as the Glasgow Group Control with jurisdiction over North Lanarkshire, parts of Renfrewshire and Dumbartonshire. Following the disbanding of the Civil Defence Corps in 1968 the building was put into care and maintenance until 1974 when it was reactivated as the Strathclyde County Control remaining operational until 1996 with Strathclyde was split into unitary authorities. Since then the building has been unused.
The war room is located on the NEL Technology Park (formerly the Scottish Office National Engineering Laboratories). Until early 2001 it was surrounded by trees but these have now been cleared with modern industrial development encroaching on the site.
The building consists of a rectangular concrete blockhouse with an entrance on the two long faces and three ventilation towers on the roof. Externally the building is identical to other war rooms but internally apart from only having one floor the room layout has one or two marked differences. Unlike the standard war rooms that have a toilet close to each entrance, this war room had them next to each other along one of the short faces.
The ventilation and power plant rooms are intact and very similar to the standard design but the orientation of the power plant room is shifted round. The standby generator (dated 1954) and its associated control cabinet are still in place and in good condition. There is also a large bank of standby lead acid batteries.
Throughout the bunker most of the names are still on the doors, these date from the most recent use as Strathclyde County Control and include: Entry Control, Wireless Apparatus, Men (toilet), Women (toilet), Communications Officer, Telephone Switch and Battery Room, Zone Controller (there is a map on the wall in this room), Liaison Officers, Operations Room, CD Message Room and Canteen.
The Operations room has windows into three small rooms and one larger rooms. There are message passing windows between the operations room and two of the other rooms. As in the single storey London War Rooms, this room has flat glazed windows unlike the curved windows found in other war rooms.
My thanks to Ward and Caroline Westwater of the Civil Defence & Emergency Service Trust for arranging the visit.
Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford, Ward Westwater, Caroline Westwater, Robin Ware and Dougie O’Hara.
- Keith Ward