Gillingham Borough Control was built about 1953 beneath the car park at the rear of the council office in Canterbury Street, Gillingham. It replaced the WW2 Civil Defence Control Centre, a single storey brick building with a slightly hipped roof that still stands at the rear of the car park.
Access is down a flight of stairs from a small surface blockhouse close to one side of the car park. At the bottom of the stairs there is an airlock consisting of two gas tight doors. Between the two doors a third gas tight door gives access to the plant room. All the plant is located here including filtration and ventilation plant, which was replaced during a 1980’s refit, a Perkins standby generator, sewage ejection plant and electrical switchgear. Everything appears to be in good working order.
Beyond the entrance airlock there is a large central lobby with doors into all the remaining rooms in the bunker. Most of these are now used for storage of furniture and small redundant objects and in some rooms it’s difficult to be sure of their original use. The first room on the right is the largest in the bunker and among the stored items are some teleprinters and radio equipment that may have been used in the bunker.
The next room on the right is the communications room. This has six acoustic booths along one wall and on the end wall a WB1400 carrier receiver and loudspeaker. There are a number of co-ax feeds hanging down by the door indicating there must have been several items of radio equipment here. On the wall opposite the booths there is a small message passing window into the next room and an emergency escape hatch. This opens into a small unlined room with a ladder up to a hinged manhole cover in the car park. A metal grille has been concreted in place below the hatch and the hatch is also secured with a stout steel bar so it can no longer be used.
At the far end of the central lobby is the control room. This also has an escape hatch in the end wall leading to the same ladder and a second message passing window back into the lobby. The room is completely full of folding tables obscuring a map that is beloved to remain on the wall. Beside the control room is a small room with a locked door that we were unable to gain access to.
The domestic part of the bunker is on the left hand side of the lobby. The first room on the left is the kitchen, which has been stripped and is now locked and used for storage. Next room on the left is the female toilet with three cubicles and a washbasin and the final room on the left is the male toilet with three cubicles, two urinals and a large chemical toilet.
Throughout the bunker is clean and dry. It was put on to care and maintenance after the disbanding of the Civil Defence Corps in 1968 and reactivated in the 1980’s when the new ventilation plant was installed, this was fed into the original trunking, which still runs through the bunker. In recent years some remaining equipment and furniture has gone to the restored Civil Defence bunker in Gravesend.
Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford and Keith Ward.