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Scotland's Secret Bunker

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Bungalow and entrance, 2006
Bungalow and entrance in 2006
© James Allan

Scotland's Secret Bunker is a Cold War museum based in one of the UK's former underground bunkers that would have served as a Regional Headquarters had the Cold War turned Hot, and was the Northern Zone Regional War Room, located at Troywood, on the B940 between Anstruther and St Andrews.

It was bought in 1993 by brothers Peter Gordon and Paul Gordon, after being declassified, decommissioned, and placed for sale on the open market.

History

The Northern Zone Regional War Room was partnered by the Western Zone Regional War Room at East Kilbride, and the Eastern Zone Regional War Room at Kirknewton.

The underground bunker at Troywood is one of the largest bunkers designs used, with 24,000 square feet of accommodation on two levels. Access is via a 150 metre long tunnel, ending in a 3 ton blast door which protects the entrance. The tunnel itself is accessed beneath a small stone-built farmhouse/bungalow on the surface, the only visible evidence of the post, although a number of surface vents are distributed across the site, disguised as animal feed sheds. These vents can now be clearly seen around the bungalow in aerial images available online. The installation required the excavation of a 40 metre hole with a shock-absorbing foundation of gravel. The outer shell of the building comprises 3 metres of solid concrete, reinforced with 2.5 centimetre thick tungsten rod every 15 centimetres. The whole structure was then lined with brick, and covered with netting soaked in pitch to form an outer casing. Built to resemble a traditional Scottish farmhouse, the guardroom was actually reinforced with concrete and steel girders. The building concealed access to the bunker and provided accommodation for the guards assigned to protect the bunker's security.

In terms of numbers, the air handling and filtration plant can move 1,500 cubic m of air per minute, giving the bunker a complete air change every 15 minutes. A 24 hour fire detection system protects the bunker/occupants, and in the event of fire, smoke can be removed at a rate of 2,200 cubic metres per minute (52,000 cubic ft). Processed air can be refrigerated/heated, ozonated/deozonated, humidified and de-humidified. Its depth means the bunker maintains an almost constant natural temperature of 18°C. Operation of the heating system would cost over £200 per hour (2005). The bunker has its own emergency generator system, able to provide 750 kVA for up to three months in the event of a total power loss, sufficient to supply the coastal villages of Fife.

The bunker would have accommodated some 300 personnel. Senior ministers would have evacuated here from Edinburgh, along with key civil servants. The main command floor provided offices for the emergency services, scientific advisors, Met office and computer staff, and an office for the Minister of State. The Secretary of State would have been housed upstairs in his own suite. On the main floor, senior staff from the major ministries would have been in contact the outside world, and up to the minute status information would be shown on giant map displays and wall charts.

The original equipment is obsolete, with telex machines and telephone switchboards on show, which would have managed 2,800 outside lines and 500 internal extensions, all by manual operation. Ten operators would have staffed the switchboards, 24 hours a day. To ensure the system remained working in the event of a nuclear bomb being dropped, the whole bunker is enclosed in a Faraday cage. This device screens the electronic equipment located within, and was intended to protect the telephone system from the electromagnetic pulse generated by the explosion. Similar screening, combined with careful design and operating procedures, still remains the only defence against such a pulse.

Originally built as a radar station during World War II, the facility was completely rebuilt as part of the ROTOR early warning system in the 1950s, but was taken over in the 1960s by the Civil Defence Corps. Advances in technology overtook the project, making it obsolete before it was completed. The bunker was reopened as the Northern Zone Regional War Room in 1973, but was again abandoned as the world changed, and the Cold War ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union during the late 1980s. After lying abandoned and forgotten for a number of years, it was rediscovered and opened as a museum in 1994. Essentially stripped bare when it was closed, a number of appeals were held for the former contents, and many of the original fixtures, fitting and artefacts were returned to the site.

Construction was openly hidden

Forwarded after discovery in a thread within a Fife forum:

The Fife area was subject to considerable construction work during the war. Dummy airfields were created inland from coast, decoy buildings were constructed from light brick to with the appearance of the real Leuchars RAF station, old farm machinery was lined up on the Fife coast to distract enemy observers, and decoy barracks were widely dispersed. The area was also home to a large camp of genuine Polish refugees, so constant activity was not unusual at the time.

Local labour was recruited during construction, but all were sworn to secrecy. Many of the older locals undoubtedly knew something was being done, but no-one ever spoke of a nuclear bunker, just that "something was/is there, but we don't know what". One former engineer (now in his 80s) who had done all the electrics in the bunker during the war, but had not breathed a word of it to anyone, not even his wife, for 50 years. He had expected the the location to remain a secret, and expressed surprise when it became public knowledge.

Site Incident 2004

In June, 2004, a man appeared in court following a three-day siege at the museum. Giving his name as Ronald McDonald, 39, of no fixed abode, he was charged with two counts of theft and one of breach of the peace at Cupar Sheriff Court. He had armed himself with a knife, stolen a JCB digger, and then driven to Troywood.

CCTV pictures from inside the bunker were later reported to have shown a man brandishing replica guns, trying on uniforms and firing at a skeleton stolen from the medical room. He then then made tea for the skeleton, and helped himself to beer and food before smashing CCTV cameras.

New bunker development promised in 2013

In February 2013, the first major story appeared regarding the purchase and restoration of the former Regional Seat of Government (RSG) housed in the abandoned underground bunker in Barnton Quarry by the owner of the Anstruther bunker, as an attraction aimed at drawing in 100,000 per annum.[1]

In April 2013, this was followed by a report which indicated that the new attraction was due to open in three year's time.

The media reported that the bunker was purchased by James Mitchell, owner of Scotland's Secret Bunker, who planned to open the Edinburgh site to the public in 2016.[2]

Photographs



Nuclear Bunker in Fife, Scotland
States this was bought by brothers Peter Gordon and Paul Gordon in 1993

References

1 Queen’s Edinburgh nuclear bunker to open as museum - Latest news - Scotsman.com Retrieved May 08, 2013.

2 Edinburgh underground bunker to be opened up to visitors | News | Edinburgh | STV Retrieved May 08, 2013.

External links


Aerial views


Map

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