History of Kelvedon Hatch

History of Kelvedon Hatch >> Nuclear Bunker

The Nuclear Bunker

Hidden in a wood off the A128 Ongar - Brentwood Road, is a small bungalow which hides a big secret. Behind it lies a three floored bunker complex in which 600 people would have been confined behind blast proof doors in the event of a nuclear war.

The bungalow at the entrance to the bunker

The bungalow at the entrance to the bunker

The deep bunker was built in 1952/3 as part of Rotor, an urgent government building programme to improve Britain's air defence network. The bunker was the Sector Operations Command for the RAF Fighter Command. Known as SOC - R4, it was to provide command and control of the London Sector of Fighter Command.

The bunker is 125 feet underground and the entrance is through an ordinary looking bungalow amongst some trees. Once into the bungalow, it leads to a 100 yard tunnel before you are in the bunker itself. Above you are two more floors, the 'hill' which covers it, and a radio mast, one of two, which would have been vital for communications.

The entrance tunnel

The entrance tunnel

The reason for the bunker was to take on a far more potentially catastrophic aim in the 1960s. Because of the threat of nuclear war the bunker became the regional government bunker for London. The aim of the bunker was that it was to be one of the government administration centres communicating with the many other smaller bunkers situated throughout the country, organising the country after a nuclear attack.

Part of the 1,000 line telephone exchange

Part of the 1,000 line telephone exchange

Substantial improvements were made to the bunker to create an environment for 600 people to survive, work and be self-sufficient for up to three months in the event of a nuclear war. The bunker had air-conditioning, heating, cooling, its own water supply and generators, and even its own operating theatre.

The generating plant room

The power generating plant room

There was a BBC studio which would have broadcast to the population (if there was any left) and the rest of the world.

Three tiered bunks in the tunnel entrance provide additional sleeping accommodation

Three tiered bunks in the tunnel entrance provide additional sleeping accommodation

The bunker was maintained at great expense during the 70, 80s and early 90s, until it was sold by the government back to the farming family who had originally lost it to the government in 1950s.

It is now open to the public and the entrance is 1/2 mile to the north of St. Nicholas' Church, Kelvedon Hatch on the A128 towards Ongar. For details on how to visit this interesting site visit the bunker web-page. (Warning: You will be taken out of this site)

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Book cover: Kelvedon Hatch, 1840 - 1920

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Kelvedon Hatch, 1840 - 1920: A Guided Tour

Go on a guided tour of Kelvedon Hatch, Essex, during the 19th and early 20th centuries. With the help of photographs, newspapers, parish records and census returns, the story of each house is revealed, as are the lives of some of their occupants.

It was a parish of many contrasts: from wealthy land-owners living in grand Georgian mansions with numerous servants, to agricultural workers struggling against poverty in overcrowded and dilapidated cottages. Discover how the landscape changed after the common land was enclosed, and how farmers struggled to cope with the agricultural depression. Find out about the role of the parish in WW1 when it was at the front line of Britain's fight against the Zeppelins. See how the new school was established and functioned, and why a new parish church was built. There are stories of crime, bankruptcy, poverty, scandal, revenge, leisure and migration.

Even if you have never been to Kelvedon Hatch, with the help of detailed maps and photographs, you will find yourself immersed in its history.

128 pages, 11 maps and diagrams, 77 black and white photographs

Published by History House and available in paperback or ebook.

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