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York Cold War Bunker, York

Historic Site · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
The York Cold War Bunker is a two-storey, semi-subterranean, Cold War bunker in the Holgate area of York, England, built in 1961 to monitor nuclear explosions and fallout in Yorkshire, in the event of nuclear war.

One of about 30 around the United Kingdom, the building was used throughout its operational existence as the regional headquarters and control centre for the Royal Observer Corps's No. 20 Group YORK between 1961 and 1991. It has become an English Heritage Scheduled Monument and was opened in 2006 by English Heritage as a tourist attraction.

During its Cold War operational period, the building could have supported 60 local volunteer members of the Royal Observer Corps, inclusive of a ten-man United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation scientific warning team. They would have collated details of nuclear bombs exploded within the UK and tracked radioactive fallout across the Yorkshire region, warning the public of its approach. This example of an ROC control building is the only one that is preserved in its operational condition. The others stand derelict or have either been demolished or sold. A few have been converted to other uses, like No. 16 Group Shrewsbury that is now a veterinary clinic, another is a recording studio, two are satellite and communications control centres, and one is a solicitor's file storage facility.

The fully restored building contains air filtration and generating plant, kitchen and canteen, dormitories, radio and landline communication equipment and specialist 1980s computers and a fully equipped operations room with vertical illuminated perspex maps.

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York Cold War Bunker reviews

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795 reviews
  • We visited here last year with friends, a great time was had and the staff were very knowedgable and passionate about their work  more »
  • Now this is the stuff. An actual honest-to-god cold war bunker, history vividly conveyed through a great location not far outside the middle of York. Historical curiosities rarely convey dire stakes.....  more »
  • Very intersesting visit. Great to learn about the dedication of thise that would have manned the bunker with no hope of real survival. The staff were very knowledgable.  more »
  • Visited 26/08/19, as an ex ROC member I was very impressed at the tour, the guide was clearly very knowledgeable and professional but at the same time didn't go overboard with too many detailed facts which can often leave visitors slightly overwhelmed. I had been back to our old monitoring post at Broadway (Worcestershire) on Saturday (which is fully restored) so was nice to see a HQ fully kitted out. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
  • Fascinating insight into one aspect of the Cold War, and the work of the Royal Observer Corps volunteers. Lots of retro technology, and an excellent guide to give us the human side of life in the bunker. We all left in a somewhat sombre mood, as was only fitting. Highly recommended.
  • Was expecting so much LESS! The place itself is not huge but the tour guide was really well informed and enthusiastic and very much made the visit for us. Well worth a visit. Although there are only a few parking places outside don't let it put you off as there is plenty of on road parking nearby. Also recommend getting a 2 or 3 Day visitors pass. Get organised and you can see and experience some wonderful things in and around York and save 30-40%.
  • An utter gem, hidden in a housing estate on the outskirts of the city. As usual with EH properties, very knowledgeable staff offer excellent insights into the site. That nobody seems to know about it seems a shame: we went in the middle of August, and there were eight of us on the turn-up-and-go tour.
  • Brilliant trip. Guide had very good knowledge and happy to answer any questions. A real hidden gem!

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