Hillingdon borough control (51E7) is located beneath the Civic Centre in Uxbridge. The bunker was built in the mid 1970’s and was one of the 7 borough controls reporting to the North West Group War HQ at Beatrice Road, Southall, in fact when it became clear that Southall would have to be abandoned due to water ingress it was earmarked as its replacement although this never happened. It has been retained by Hillingdon Council as their emergency control centre in a somewhat truncated form.
As well as taking part in regular exercises it has been brought into action for several small local emergencies, mainly flooding. The bunker is mostly beneath the underground car park and access to it is via stairs or a lift from the ground floor of the Civic Centre. From the bottom of the stairs a short corridor leads to a gas tight door that would also offer some blast protection. This gives access to a 20' corridor, three doors on the right leading to male, female and disabled toilets and double doors on the left leading into the combined plant room. A door at the end of the corridor leads into what was the original spacious control room.
This has now been converted (in the early 1990’s) in to the Civic Centres Sports and Social Club with a bar at the far end. The only evidence of its former use are two message passing windows into one of the communications rooms and a second gas tight door on the far side of the room which gives access to stairs and the emergency exit into the underground car park. Adjacent to the bar, a door leads into the ‘games room’ with a pool table and various other pub games.
On the far side of the games room another door was our entrance into the long plant room. The ventilation plant was running as it also supplies air to other parts of the building. There was also a standby generator that looked in good order (apparently it is regularly tested) and a six foot ladder attached to one wall leads to another emergency escape route. In fact it leads into a maze of pipe and cable tunnels running around the building, fire exits are shown in two directions, one leads to a small ladder and an ROC type hatch in the roof. In the other direction there was another ladder giving access to a ventilation tower and having turned a few more corners a third ladder gives access to a small upper room with a locked door into the ground floor of the Civic Centre.
Returning to the former control room, the current emergency centre is located in room along two sides. Having entered the room from the corridor, the first room on the right is an emergency store room, among the stores were a number of PDRM82 Portable dose rate meters (unopened in boxes) and various cans of out of date food. The ECN, an SX50 unit, is also found in this room.
The next room on the right is the new control room with tables in the centre, TV and video recorder, computer terminal and various maps on the wall including two plans of RAF Northolt. A door at the far side gives access to a small office that appears to be in daily use, in one wall there were two message passing windows into the old control room and a further two message passing windows into the adjacent communications room.
This room is little changed since built with acoustic booths along one wall, several of them containing radio transceivers, one of which is owned and operated by Raynet. A door at the far end of the Comms room leads back into the old control room. Along the other side wall of the former control room, the first two doors give access to water tanks and the third door is the liaison room with a large 1" laminated Ordnance Survey map covering one wall. This shows much of south east England from Ramsgate in the East to High Wycombe in the West and North to Chelmsford. Various home defence boundaries are marked and the positions of all ROC posts (post 1968) are clearly indicated with their designation. On the opposite wall there is a large scale street map of Hillingdon Borough. The room is filled with tables and chairs and there is also a map cabinet containing many out of date (70’s and 80’s) Ordnance Survey and other maps.
The final irregularly shaped room is now used for storage. Before the largest rooms were converted into the sports and social club this would have been a substantial bunker and it would certainly have been big enough to take over the role of NW Group war HQ if it had been required.
Once again, thanks to Keith Ward for arranging this site visit. Those present were Nick Catford, Andrew Smith, Keith Ward, Caroline Ford and Alan Lawrence.