Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker, Kelvedon Hatch

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The Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker at Kelvedon Hatch, in the Borough of Brentwood in the English county of Essex, is a large underground bunker maintained during the cold war as a potential regional government headquarters. Since being decommissioned in 1992, the bunker has been open to the public as a tourist attraction, with a museum focusing on its cold war history.Building and intended purposeThe bunker was first built as an air defence station as part of the RAF ROTOR air defence project. Upon the demise of the ROTOR SOC the remaining Nuclear Reporting Cell and UKWMO elements were incorporated into a Home Office 'Regional Seat of Government' or RSG. The bunker was able to hold various numbers of military and civilian personnel, the numbers changing over the years as the role of the building changed from SOC to RSG and in its later years; 'Regional Government Headquarters' or RGHQ. In the event of a nuclear strike the RSG / RGHQs etc. would be tasked to organise the survival of the population and continue government operations.HistoryThe Kelvedon Hatch bunker was built in 1952 - 53 as part of ROTOR. ROTOR was a programme to improve and harden Britain's air defence network. It was constructed by Peter Lind & Company of London who still trade today. The bunker was a hardened (three level 'R4') Sector Operations Centre (SOC) for RAF Fighter Command. It was to provide command and control of the London Sector of Fighter Command.During the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and early into the 1990s, the UK government (Home Office) maintained the bunker as an emergency regional government defence site. Eventually in the early 1990s when nuclear threat was seen as diminished, the bunker was sold back to the farming family who had owned the land in the 1950s. It is now a Cold War museum and retains many of its original ROTOR and RSG/RGHQ features.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor Traveler Rating
566 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • August 20, 2017
    Took my daughter as we both have an interest in wartime history . Was fascinated by the place but at the same time a little depressed by the function of it . Those select few would have been " safe" f...  more »
  • August 19, 2017
    Interesting place to find out about. A little expensive for what it is to be honest. My son who has asd didnt like it so we sat in the cafe while the rest of our group finished the tour. Gifts food an...  more »
  • August 16, 2017
    As part of our day out we arranged to arrive here for a visit to last about an hour. In truth we could have spent longer here. It really depends on whether you stop off to see the various educational ...  more »
Google
  • I really enjoyed it as a short trip near me. Lovely car park and you get to go down into the building into the bunker itself which was 3 floors. It was very interesting and there was a guided tour with a little phone/device which made the trip even more interesting. It was even quite spooky at times. There are also many films shown in rooms which I watched which were great. It's also a great day out for kids. I must say the souvenir/canteen was the bit that let me down a bit. There's an honesty box in which you have to pay for the trip in at the end and then you pay for whatever you're buying in there. It's cash only. It's a nice concept but it seemed a bit weird at first. All in all, it was a great day out and I really enjoyed it. However, be careful about the postcode given! Go to the real website, there are two. I inputted the 'GPS postcode' but as my GPS is so new it took me two miles east. Just be aware.
  • The Secret Nuclear Bunker is an interesting place to visit and makes a change from the usual historical attractions like castles, museums and stately homes. The place is in a rather run down, thrown-together condition, but this actually enhances the atmosphere - it lends a certain "feel" to the place that it would not have if it were a pristine and restored museum. If possible visit when the place is quiet. You may find yourself not meeting another human being for your entire visit, there was not even someone taking payment (payment is cash-only and reliant on the visitor to be honest when putting their payment into the "honesty bucket" as they exit the bunker). This solitude feels appropriate and enables the visitor to reflect on their experience, although considering several hundred people would have occupied the bunker if it had ever been pressed into use, it's a quietness the real occupants would probably not have enjoyed! The only reason I've not given five stars is because they charge extra if you want to take photographs. I understand places which prohibit photography altogether, and of course I expect to have to pay for professional or commercial use, but it is the first time in many years that I've been somewhere that wants everyday paying customers to fork out extra for a photographic memento of their day. I would prefer them to stick a few quid on the entry charges than insist a special photography permit is purchased. I guess they expect you will buy their DVD or a few postcards instead, but like most people I will just make do with a Google image search!
  • Great place to go, there are friendly staff and was very informative on each object or area. I would call this a great place if you are interested in The Cold War and how Britain would be prepared for such an event. The only negative thing is that there was a filming going on and a whole section of audio tape was closed off. Otherwise great place to visit and worth a journey because I travelled 2 and a half hours so I am impressed at quality of the attraction.
  • Honestly, this is probably the coolest place I've been. Such a bizarre experience to wander around the old underground tunnels and rooms. Plus the little signs around the place are super charming.
  • A quite extraordinary and fairly unique place with an endearingly casual ambience - rather ironic considering the purpose for which it was designed and built. Well worth a visit especially as there seem to be only two even remotely similar open to the public in the entire country. And also because until recently it has been one of the country's best kept secrets since it was constructed in 1952. It is located literally "off the beaten track" through a farm. The tour is self - guided with the help of a hand held audio player.. The commentary is very good - achieving a good level of information without drowning in details. And the laconic manner of its delivery puts the wider issues related to the bunker's purpose in somewhat stark and sometimes shocking perspective. And to think that it was only decommissioned in 1992, which is recent enough for it to have been used ... in extremis ... by Prime Ministers such as Margaret Thatcher and John Major. And where, until then, fully staffed 15 day "lockdown" exercises simulating response to nuclear attack were conducted annually. The bunker itself is very large and I would be surprised if many found it claustrophobic.

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