The Cold War was a dark and frosty time. There was the constant risk of a world-ending hail of nuclear bombs raining down on humanity. In response, the Americans built the top-secret Congressional Fallout Shelter under the iconic The Greenbrier for members of Congress (today open to the public). The Soviets built very deep subway stations, and the British built their own network of bunkers.

The Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker is located in the southern English county of Essex. It is a large underground bunker that was maintained during the Cold War as a potential regional government headquarters.


Size and Purpose of The Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker

The bunker was able to hold hundreds of military and civilian personnel. Its capacity and purpose changed over the course of the Cold War. In its later years, it was tasked to organize the survival of the population and the continuation of government operations. It was able to sustain the personnel for a period of up to three months.

According to the bunker's website, it was designed for up to 600 military and civilian personnel - possibly even the Prime Minister. Their task was to:

"...organize the survival of the population in the awful aftermath of a nuclear war."

It is scary to think of the folly of man and man's ability to completely destroy himself - something that came nervewracking close to happening in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Over its lifetime, the Bunker had three main lives as:


Regional Government Headquarters

Civil Defence Centre (Briefly in the 1960s)

The land was compulsorily purchased as an air defense station in 1952-53. It was originally built as part of a program aimed at improving Britain's air defense network. Originally it was a Sector Operations Centre (SOC) for RAF Fighter Command. It was intended to provide command and control of the London Sector of Fighter Command.

Built: 1952 to 1953

Depth: 125 Feet or 38 Meters Underground

It came complete with air conditioning and heating and had its own water supply.

The bunker was decommissioned in 1992 with the end of the Cold War After the Cold War, it was sold back to the farming family who had owned the land previously in the 1950s.

The entrance to the bunker is through an innocuous-looking bungalow set amongst the trees. Inside the bungalow is a 100 yard (91-meter) long tunnel leading down into the bunker.

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Visiting the Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker

Today it is the biggest and deepest Cold War bunker open to the public and has three levels. The museum focuses on the bunker's Cold War history.

The tour is self-guided with personal handsets - these are included in the admission price. Additionally, there is also an adult and child tour available.

Along the route, one will see several films to watch about the history of the bunker as well as a dressing up area where one can try on some authentic military uniforms and some gas masks.

One should allow around an hour and a half for the self-guided tour but if one would watch all the films and take one's time it can take around four hours.

Summer Season:

Dates: March 1st to October 31st

Weekdays: 10.00 am to 4.00 pm

Weekends: 10.00 am to 5.00 pm (And National Holidays)

Winter Season:

Dates: November 1st to the end of February

Open: Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays

Hours: 10.00 am to 4.00 pm

Note: Last Entry Is Usually 1 Hour Before Closing

As the facilities are underground, there is no WiFi signal for credit card payments. Visitors are strongly recommended to bring cash so that they will be able to pay.

Admission Prices:

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Adults: £10 ($13.50)

Children: £8 ($11.00) (5-16 Years)

Family: £25 ($34) (up to 2 Adults and 2 Children)

Related: It's Rumored That London Is Home To The Largest Secret Tunnel System In The World, So Here's What We Know

Hiring Out The Bunker

One can even hire out the bunker. It has been hired out for many different events and occasions over the years. It is also a popular filming location and a number of films and documentaries have been filmed in it. If one would like to hire the bunker, one can contact them on their website.

Making it more popular for filming is that they also have many areas (both internal and external) suitable for historical WW1 and WW2 films and documentaries. These include trenches, wooded areas, lakes, tracks, bridges, barns, period houses gardens as well as a range of military vehicles for hire.

During WW2 the nerve center of the British government and war effort was located underground and Prime Minister Winston Churchill lived in a bunker. These bunkers are now open to the public as the Churchill War Rooms in London.

Next: Berlin Was Once Home To A Maze Of Over 1,000 Bunkers, And Many Are Open To The Public Today