As tensions mounted during the Cold War and a direct nuclear strike against the UK became increasingly more likely the Government invested heavily in updating the UK’s defences and in 1951 the construction of a chain of concrete bunkers across the country began.
Soon after it became a legal requirement for every county to maintain emergency headquarters and the bunkers, initially built for the deployment of air defences, were adapted for this purpose.
The UK was divided into eighteen regions, each with its own RGQH (regional government Head Quarters), to carry on governing the country before and after a nuclear strike. One such RGHQ was the bunker at Kelvedon Hatch just to the south of Ongar, Essex.
Now open to the public its three subterranean levels are accessed through what appears to be a farm house (or at least the MOD’s idea of what a farm house should look like) that conceals a 120’ long tunnel at the end of which are the bunkers blast doors.
Beyond the doors is a veritable treasure chest of military and civilian gear that was either left behind after decommissioning in 1992 or added to since by the bunkers private owners. This includes much of the original plant, communications equipment, desks and office paraphernalia, and the day to day kit required to support the 600 or so staff and VIP’s (including the current PM) that would have been housed behind the blast doors. Had the Russian’s decided to press the red button that is.