The Burlington Bunker

From the introduction.

In the 1950s, as the threat of nuclear war loomed large, the Tunnels became an underground facility for the potential relocation of Government in time of crisis.  This role was retained until 2004 when, the Cold War having ended, the site  was declassified, though still remaining part of the Ministry of Defence estate.

Much of what remains today reflects the Tunnels’ service as a nuclear bunker – ‘Burlington Bunker’, as it was code-named – but there is also ample evidence of their earlier roles.

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[browser-shot width=”500″ url=”http://burlingtonandbeyond.co.uk/wp/”] [browser-shot width=”500″ url=”http://www.burlingtonbunker.co.uk/”] [browser-shot width=”500″ url=”http://www.bbc.co.uk/wiltshire/underground_city/”]

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Chris
Chris
December 16, 2014 11:48 am

Its a constant amusement (and has been for years) that The Government decided the most important part of society to be saved in the case of Armageddon was The Government. Most of them couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag without a personal Private Secretary’s assistance – how were they going to grow crops, catch fish, operate mills, find water, cure the sick, make fire, defend against starving animal attack or indeed defend against other starving tribes? Surely the people you would need to be saved were nurses farmers woodsmen fishermen and the like? But no. Following the obliteration of the populace, all the really valuable MPs would emerge to engage in proclamations, edicts, fact-finding missions, report writing and the inevitable party politic in-fighting (which is, after all, all they know how to do). That would help the poor wretches that were left to suffer the radiation first hand no end.

monkey
monkey
December 16, 2014 4:04 pm


No they would not all emerge , mostly they would of eaten each other and the last cannibal would emerge to feed on the surface dwelling pre-cooked survivors,same as now then :-)

Phil
December 16, 2014 6:03 pm

I dunno, made perfect sense to me.

Chris
Chris
December 16, 2014 6:17 pm

Phil – it only makes sense while there’s still a functioning C3I structure above ground? But that carries the assumption the big mushrooms haven’t appeared yet; once the bombs arrived (in force, if assessments were correct) then there would be nothing to command, nothing to control, nothing to communicate with. And the only intelligence required would have been “Oh God its actually happened…” This is the oddball nature of Parliament in a bunker – its only valid up until the point the bunker provides its protection; from that point on Government has no infrastructure to govern. So to me it always had the whiff of MPs using public funds to protect their own miserable hides, rather than trying to protect a useful kernel of society for the horrific rebuilding task post annihilation.

Phil
December 16, 2014 6:26 pm

I think there’d have been more to command than you think. And without even an attempt at having a continuity of political authority then the survivors were going to have an even rougher time. Modern numbers of humans, even the much reduced numbers after a strike, can’t remotely get along without political authorities.

Anyway, the Sovs knew about Burlington almost straight away. The Python concept had more of a chance. I suspect that moving MPs by the trainload to Burlington to be incinerated was part of a wider more cunning plan!

Jim30
Jim30
December 16, 2014 7:04 pm

Site 3 was essentially a maskirovka from the early 1960s onwards but it did it’s job bloody well.

The other point to note is that very few MPs got places in bunkers unless they were a minister. They had to take their chances like the rest of us.

Ultimately the point of these places was to try and provide two things – somewhere to enable someone to stay alive long enough to order retaliation and also an eventual accretion point in the medium term as society came back together.

DGOS
DGOS
December 16, 2014 8:48 pm

Each GAS Board as they were had to nominate someone to remain in the Regional Control Room after the final warning was given..

Not at all clear what they had to do as all coms. would go down because of electro-magnetic surge (which we did not know about officially but deduced it from basic science). The early warning box (4 min?) was in each control room and on major gasworks and tested , I think, once a quarter.

I said OK but want to get my wife and child out of south east to her home (Barrow in Furness !!!!!!!!!) early on in warm up period. Bit futile in hindsite.

Garner
Garner
December 16, 2014 8:53 pm

I always thought that the bunkers were more for morale rather than any realistic prospect of them protecting enough people to do much after a serious nuclear exchange. I always thought that “Threads” was a shockingly realistic assessment of how things were likely to pan out.

Interestingly, when the Poles released the Soviet attack plans a few years back, the UK wasn’t allocated any nukes, I don’t think France was either. Their planned strike pattern was entirely tactical in nature as opposed to strategic, focusing on transport and military hubs in central Europe.
Perhaps their plan was to win the battle in Germany with a lot of nukes and then force Britain and France to sue for peace with the argument, “look, we’ve clobbered Germany, let’s end this silliness now”

monkey
monkey
December 16, 2014 9:38 pm

@Garner
After a few allowed surveillance flights over the now smoothly glassed Brandenburg it would be ” shows over boys back to your original positions ” and thank God it was not you and yours.

WW
WW
December 16, 2014 9:51 pm

Google COMMANDOBUNKER KEMMEL for Burlington’s little sister in Belgium.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
December 16, 2014 11:00 pm

Maskirovka, I have always liked that term.

Site 3 has been known about for years. Of greater interest is the CCC in District 9 of Spring Quarry up the road,

Obsvr
Obsvr
December 17, 2014 1:19 am

I always understood that Corsham was but one of several ‘Regional Seats of Government’.

Anixtu
Anixtu
December 17, 2014 8:56 am

Obsvr,

RSGs are a separate development. Corsham was for central government. There is an English Heritage book which provides a good overview of the development of post-attack government infrastructure through the Cold War: https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/cold-war/
A few of the RSG bunkers are open as museums.

monkey
monkey
December 17, 2014 10:24 am
Alex
Alex
December 17, 2014 11:24 am

Mike Kenner regularly posts documents up to the early 80s (PYTHON and also PEBBLE) on his twitter feed: https://twitter.com/wellbright

Kent
Kent
December 18, 2014 7:48 pm

From a US perspective, after a nuclear exchange, civil government higher than local or state will pretty much be useless. What we’ll really miss is the infrastructure that held everything together when the trains and trucks stop running and bringing us “stuff.” The people I think would miss the central government are those who live in the big concrete jungle cities. They’ll thin out real quick, I’m thinking. In most other cities, yards, parks, and vacant lots will turn into gardens/mini-farms which might help. Books will be gold since the internet will likely be a thing of the past.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
December 19, 2014 2:07 am

Monkey – brilliant.