...By Henry George for TDPel Media.
You might be forgiven for thinking that the recently uncovered photos of an underground war room in Cardiff were from a Cold War time capsule, but in fact, they are from a bunker that was hidden by one of the city’s busiest roundabouts.
This regional war room was built in 1952 at Coryton as part of a network of 13 such facilities across the UK, designed and built in case of a nuclear attack that would make it impossible for the central government to continue functioning.
The underground bunkers of south Wales have been left to rot, and you can view more of them here.
The bunker at Coryton remained in operation until 1958, when it became a training centre for Regional Seats of Government staff.
The system that replaced the regional war rooms.
From then on, the building was used for training by Cardiff’s Civil Defence Corps until 1968.
After the corps disbanded, the building was used for training the South Glamorgan Emergency Centre until the end of the Cold War in 1991. The building was eventually demolished in 2003.
The two-storey concrete building had a lower floor hidden underground, which included offices, dormitories for men and women, a large kitchen, and toilets, all connected by a maze of corridors.
A radio communications room, a canteen, including an electric cooker with pots and pans, and some glass-fronted bookshelves, were also hidden away inside.
Nick Catford’s photos of the bunker, shared on Subterranea Britannica just before its demolition, showed chairs, tables, and beds still in place, with graffiti scrawled on the walls.
In his report, Mr Catford described his visit, noting that the plant rooms were as they would have been in 1952, but the rest of the rooms were laid out for their use by South Glamorganshire County Emergency Centre.
Beyond the canteen was the women’s dormitory with four rows of four bunks and three extra bunks dismantled and leaning against the wall.
The ring corridor then turned right, and the next room on the left was the map room, now full of waterlogged maps.
The next room on the left was the “Directing Staff” room, which had only a wooden cupboard, and even the clock had been removed, leaving a tell-tale wooden ring on the wall where
it was mounted.
The kitchen was one of the largest rooms in the bunker, with a large serving counter and food preparation table a few feet in front of the near end wall.
There were five open bays beneath it, and behind it was a Belling electric cooker and oven, a mini Belling oven, and a Creda water heater.
There was a Butler sink with a wooden draining board on each side and a wooden plate rack above it.
Today, there is little left of the war room except for a few pictures and memories of those who served there.
However, it is an interesting piece of history that sheds light on the measures that were taken to protect against the threat of a nuclear attack during the Cold War.
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