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Top Secret Underground Nuclear Bunkers - Underground Homes

Updated on December 24, 2014

The Purpose of an Underground Bunker

Secret underground nuclear bunkers were designed to support key staff and essential war leaders during a possible thermo-nuclear, atomic, chemical or germ warfare attack during the height of the cold-war. These underground homes were able to support many staff and personnel allowing the country to function during times of crisis. These Secret Underground Nuclear Bunkers exists all over the world. But what can you expect to see in such a place?

Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker – Kelvedon Essex England (United Kingdom)

this Bunker is located in Rural Essex England

A Top Secret Bunker should Always Have a Sign

The Bunker Entrance to Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker

This Bunker Contains Three Levels:

  • Ground Floor
  • Upper Floor
  • Cafeteria and Bunker Exit

This vast secret underground nuclear bunker resides in the heart of the Essex countryside in England. The only visible landmark that indicates the bunker’s there is an old disused radio mast, which dominates the skyline. Today it’s privately owned and can hosts tours and events deep within the cavernous interior. The start of the terrain that is Kelvedon Hatch starts off at the site guard-house (that resembles a cottage). The site itself was originally designed and built by the Air Ministry of Great Britain in 1952.

The Guard Bungalow

The Guard bungalow and surrounding utilities are able to withstand a nuclear blast plus the radiation that would follow. If an atomic bomb exploded these buildings would be able to survive. The importance of the bungalow is that it contains the tunnel into the vast underground home that is the bunker.

Encased within the guard bungalow is the start of the entrance tunnel into the deeper secretive compound. Its length reaches a total of 120m. Nearby on ground level reside 2 standby generators that can produce enough electricity for 90 days. A stash of fuel also ensures these generators are able to run without interruption.

Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker Video Tour

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Ground Floor

The empty bunker is situated 80 foot underground. Positioned on this layer of the secret underground bunker is the essential equipment that would have allowed the bunker to function. This includes a main communication array that could interact and communicate with other nuclear bunkers located throughout England.

In addition to this the military equipment including masks and weapons is also stored at this level. Easy access to general plant equipment makes the ground floor an integral part of the underground bunker. I like to think of it as the heart of the whole operations center.

To ensure this part of the bunker was protected a 1.5 tonne blast door seals the entrance to this underground secret home of sorts. Indeed communication in the event of a nuclear or terror attack is the key behind understanding who and why these units were created. Being able to talk to other governmental and military installations all over the UK would have allowed the nation to continue fighting if necessary.

Redundancy was always required so Kelvedon Hatch had its very own BBC broadcasting studio which could have allowed the bunker to broadcast messages of information to the general public.

The Plotting Room - needs extensive DIY work
The Plotting Room - needs extensive DIY work

The Plotting Room

Every underground bunker needs a secret plotting room. Plotting allows a nation to determine the range and position of nuclear or chemical attacks upon its territory as well as responses in terms of retaliation. Being able to direct submarines, aircraft, and armies when the enemy or terrorist group struck is the main advantage of a secret underground base.

An underground hoe would be nothing without an air supply. Fortunately part of the initial design for the base ensured that the residents had an ample air supply. Air condition allowed the air to be filtrated, recycled and cooled to keep the inhabitants content. Keeping a positive air pressure also ensured that the bunker was secure from outside hazards such as radioactive elements, dusts and chemicals that would otherwise have killed the dwellers.

Upper Floor Levels of the Bunker

During an atomic nuclear assault a government still needs to function. The army and counter-attacks need to be coordinated and the general public controlled with information and guidance. This hub on the upper floor would house key political figures. So in essence the bunker now has a full stock of people able to wage war from the positions of the military, communications, and governmental.

The Cafeteria and the Mandatory Exit Tunnel

Keeping the citizens of an underground home content requires keeping them clean and well-fed.

  • A surgery with medical staff will ensure people are treated for everyday injuries as well as more serious medical conditions
  • Washrooms allowed the inhabitants to keep clean and conduct other biological necessities.
  • Dormitories provided sleeping quarters for the governmental, military, and utility staff.
  • The canteen would provide hot regular meals to keep the people in the bunker well fed. Food supplies were calculated to last for 90 days, which configures it with the amount of electrical energy that could be supplied. If there’s no power, no point in having food. If there’s no food power is not much use.

This self-containment is a key thought behind what a nuclear bunker is supposed to do. It has to be able to withstand poisons, toxins, gases and even radiation. It needs to be completely shut off from the outside world. It must maintain communications within military and civilian channels and issue orders and directives accordingly. It must also be able to withstand direct nuclear detonation or explosion.

As I recall Kelvedon Hatch now hosts dinner parties and meetings in their underground bunker. You can even hire the bunker out for events and parties, which would be an amazing experience I’m sure!

The Burlington Bunker

Inside the Top Secret Nuclear Bunker at Burlington
Inside the Top Secret Nuclear Bunker at Burlington | Source

The Burlington Nuclear Bunker - A Secret Underground City (also known as Stockwell, Subterfuge, Turnstile and Site 3) Corsham Wiltshire England (United Kingdom)

Situated 100 feet underground this massive 35 acre site is often referred to as the first of the secret underground cities. Designed and built in 1957 the existing network of caves that ran below the town made building a base here relatively easy as secondary excavation was not required.

The site was designed and planned to hold over 4000 personnel who could continue operations in the event of nuclear war or atomic activity by an enemy state. In similar to Kelvedon Hatch and what appears to be Government Policy of the time, the secret underground bunker was designed to isolate itself from the world for a maximum period of 90 days. After this time it was assumed personnel could conduct outside reconnaissance trips and missions.

Subterfuge In Corsham: Burlington Nuclear Bunker

Cabin Fever in an Underground Home and the Psychology of Loss

To imagine being locked away from the outside world as well as friends and families is a sobering though I’m sure you’ll empathize with. Despite being nuclear dust proof, chemical gas proof, and able to withstand nuclear strikes the thought of being away from nefarious toxins whilst your family was vulnerable would have made cabin fever a real threat. It’s surprising and perhaps remains unrevealed how psychological monitoring would have been an essential part of the underground home life.

The Burlington Secret Underground Nuclear Bunker contained the following essentials:

  • Offices to administer orders, communiqués, and control logistics.
  • Laundries to supply fresh clean linen and clothes
  • Storerooms full of essential and necessary supplies
  • Hospital for treating injuries and the like
  • Cafeterias and kitchens for preparing fresh nutritious food to the staff and dwellers of the underground home
  • A telephone exchange to enable communications with the other bunkers
  • An operational television studio for public communications and survival messages
  • An air controlled pneumatic tube messaging system
  • A public house called the “Rose and Crown”
  • Climate control that allowed the air and humidity to be regulated

Olga Lehmann Murals in the Burlington Bunker

Not sure if these images would be much of a comfort during 90 days of complete isolation
Not sure if these images would be much of a comfort during 90 days of complete isolation | Source

The Murals - The Circus, Prehistoric Monsters, Sports, Sailors, and Cannibals!

The rather bizarre and quite frankly disturbing Murals by Olga Lehmann that adorn the walls of Burlington were created to provide entertainment for the 4000 inhabitants. To me though, the Murals seem to tear at the very nature of the human psyche. After all is cannibalism a theme you really want people to see as the face isolation locked in with other people?

Why this work was commissioned I do not fully understand to be honest. When looking at these images I was instantly reminded of the themes and various bunkers of the video game Fallout 3, in particular the harking back to bygone days and the sense of antiquated nostalgia.

Cannibals as Entertainment?

Cannibalism expressed as a Mural inside the Burlington Bunker
Cannibalism expressed as a Mural inside the Burlington Bunker

A Royal Connection to the Burlington Nuclear Bunker

To help protect the monarch and the ascension and line to the throne of England the Burlington bunker had a clandestine railway track that sheared away from the mainline London to Bristol track. This would allow members of the Royal Family to secretly enter the base and keep the Monarchy safe-and-sound during times of national atomic attack.

Water, Water, Every where, nor any Drop to Drink - or so you thought!

What would you do if you had to task the supply of fresh water to over 4000 people for 90 days? Well the answer is simple. You just build an underground lake that will hold enough fresh water for the job. Isolated from outside contaminants such as nuclear dust the lake would have been able to supply to the needs of fresh water from a secret location. However the base itself was never used which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

The Burlington underground city and all its underground homes were finally decommissioned in 2004. Until this time however it was an official top secret Underground Nuclear Bunker and to tell anyone about it would have been to break the Official Secrets Act.

The German Government Bunker

Sturdy Tunnel leading into the Bunker Complex
Sturdy Tunnel leading into the Bunker Complex

The German Government Bunker (Regierungsbunker) 16km South of Bonn (Germany)

The Official German Federal Government Bunker

Since March 2008 this secret Underground Nuclear Bunker located within the valley of the River Ahr is now officially a Museum open to the general public. Initially built in 1950 it remained one of the most secretive governmental buildings until it’s rebirth as a place to have a guided tour. Its nuclear blast proof doors clang now, not to the shrill alarms of a pending nuclear winter, but to the coins of the paying spectators.

The museum now contains relics of the past, almost re-enacting the cold-war paranoia that enveloped the Western world. Think of it as a tour of yesteryear.

Why we need Secret Underground Bunkers?

The need for Secret Underground Nuclear Bunkers as an underground home helps illustrate that the fear of atomic annihilation was not an isolated incident. Thankfully they stand now, in most instances, as museums perhaps showing us how times have changed and more importantly what time was like back in the Cold-War era.

Now these monuments to the past have become attractions in their own rights, it may well be worth popping into one for an hour or two!

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