The bunker is on the South side of the Reading university campus behind the new Agricultural building. You can get to the bunker from the ‘Earley’ Gate entrance, it is a two floored semi sunk oblong construction on an east / west alignment which was built around 1953 along with 13 other sites built around the country. Designed for the ‘A’ Bomb, these types of site were generally too poorly equipped to cope with the problems that hydrogen bombs would cause and were replaced from the mid-1950s firstly by ‘joint civil-military HQs’ (which in practice were not built) and then ‘RSGs’. Unlike these later sites it was not expected to provide accommodation.
The main entrance and the emergency exit are on the east corner of the bunker, the main entrance facing north and the emergency exit on the south side. On the main entrance there are three doors, the first is made of metal and although not solid it does have a large metal frame.
Going through this door you turn right and you face two more doors, the first one is wooden with a small window in it with two metal bars for protection. The next door is the ‘blast door’, it is not particularly thick but it has four large’ locks’ on it, two at the top and two at the bottom. The strange thing is that the handles are on both sides of the door. Standing just inside the door on your left is the female toilets and shower block, there are four toilets, four sinks and one shower unit and a small boiler. The water to the shower and toilets had been turned off.
Moving out of this room with your back to the blast door, in front of you is the plant room, which runs north / south between the two sets of toilets. A lot of the original equipment is still there including the generator, which still works. The hand pumps for the fuel tank still work - though the fuel tank does not have much protection as it is outside.
Turning right and moving further into the bunker you come to the first stairwell with a water tank over part of it, at this point the corridor splits and you can either move along the front of the bunker (east / west) or turn left and head south past the plant room on your left and the upper part of the control room on your right. Moving past the plant room we came to a fire door, which has been added by the University.
About half way down the corridor there is a door on the right, which leads into the upper part of the control room, at the end of the corridor there is another fire door, which again has been added by the University. In front of you is the exact opposite of the front entrance, a stairwell leading to the lower floor with a water tank over the stairs. On your left is the other entrance to the plant room then the male toilets. On this side everything has been removed (the sinks, the urinals, the toilets and the shower) and it is now used to store potting compost for the horticulture department.
To the right of this is the other blast door and outer entrance.Moving further round the bunker past the stairs (heading west) you come to a set of four doors on your left and another door on your right leading to the control room. I don’t as of yet know what the rooms on the left were used for.
At the end of this corridor you turn right again and start heading north, this time you walk down a corridor which has been added by the University, it was originally one large room but they have added a false wall in between the control room wall and the outer wall of the bunker to make a ‘lockable room’, while still enabling users to walk right around the bunker.
When you reach the end of this corridor you come to another door and after turning right you’re on the final leg of the upper floor (heading east). Towards the end of this corridor you come to two doors on your left leading to separate rooms and opposite two more doors into the control room. The floor between the two levels of the control room has been filled in by the University to make more use of the building, the university library now uses the rooms for document storage.
You are now back to the first stair case, once you get to the bottom of the stairs the corridors splits east/west and north/south (exactly the same as the upper floor). Going along the north/south corridor you immediately come to another modern fire door, continuing along this corridor you have the lower part of the corridor on your right. There are three doors on this side each containing smaller rooms, which I presume, would have been sub-offices for controllers.
At the end of this corridor there is another modern fire door and the other stair case. Turning right you start walking westwards along the back of the bunker, this corridor is not straight unlike the other east/west corridor. The first room you come to will be a small tank room, the tank has been removed and the room is now empty, there were two tanks on this floor, the other is in the exact opposite corner of the bunker, I presume these tanks were water tanks as the fuel tanks are outside the building.
Moving on from this room the corridor goes left then right along past the side of the tank room, the University has again reconstructed the next part of the corridor, creating a ‘lockable room’ while still being able to walk right round the lower floor.
Walking on from this, the next room again has had a new false wall added; the new ‘lockable room’ is on the left, with the corridor at an angle rather than a dogleg. This room is believed to have been the communications centre as there is a hole in the back wall leading to the roof and a hatch in the opposite wall to pass information through into the next room.
Coming out of the room you now start heading north through a small dog leg, the wall on your right is the west side of the control room but the new wall on your left makes another ‘lockable room’. Originally this room would have run for two thirds of the length of the bunker.
At the end of this corridor you turn right and walk east along the front of the bunker, both walls of this part of the bunker are original, there are four small rooms on your left, the last one being the tank room (the exact opposite to the one on the south side of the bunker) as described earlier but this time it still has its tank. There is also a door about halfway down the corridor on your right leading directly into the control room.
Once you get to the end of the corridor there is another modern fire door and your are back to the staircase again.
Reading War room later became the the comcen for the Warren Row RSG but it is difficult to see a viable role for the site after 1965 when the RSG’s were scrapped.
Those taking part in the visit were Keith Ward, Steve Fox, and Duncan Halford and on a subsequent visit Nick Catford, Richard Challis and Robin Ware.