The former secret underground bunker in Corsham, Wiltshire has been placed on the Historic England’s At Risk register as it faces imminent destruction.
The site which was the Central Government War Headquarters (CGWHQ) was built in disused stone quarries under an MOD facility in Corsham. It contained a virtual underground city with offices, accommodation, communications and even a pub all of which was designed to be a self-sustaining place of safety for the Central Government in a time of national crisis or nuclear war.
The telephone exchange, which is possibly the most well known area of the site, is one part of the complex that has been recorded by Historic England as being at immedite and imminent risk of loss due to its rapid decline since the air conditioning was switched off following its decomissioning.
The site was converted to the CGWHQ in the 1957 with most of the work completed by 1959. It was in service (although never used) until the early 1990’s. The locatin was de-classified in 2004.
Part of the underground site is now being converted into a Data Centre and Storage Facility for secure data use although exact details of how much of the site is being converted/used cannot be revealed for obvious reasons. Other underground sites are still in use by the MOD including the Corsham Computer Centre (CCC) which handles trident softwate, data and communications systems.
Other parts of the site protected by Historic England include the kitchens, canteen, laundry and wash rooms.
As the site is under an active MOD base access to the site has always been heavily restricted however calls are growing that this. arguably the most important site in the UK related to the Cold War should be preserved and have some form of public access although whilst MOD Corsham is active, this is unlikely.
The complex used various codenames over the years including Stockwell, Subterfuge, Burlington, Turnstile, Chanticleer, Peripheral, Eyeglass and finally Site 3.
Some details about the orders relating to manning the complex during the Burlington phase can be found here
The Historic England At Risk register is a programme that protects and manages the historic environment, so the number of ‘at risk’ historic places and sites across England is reduced.