Opened in the 1961 York ROC Headquarters served a vital role in the UK’s civil defense during the cold war. The primary role of the ROC (Royal Observer Corp) was to monitor and report on Nuclear Attacks and post attack Fallout.
Located to the east of York in the Acomb area, the Semi-Sunken bunker served its function silently until it was decommissioned in the early 1990s. As a group HQ for the ROC it was connected to a network of small ROC Posts which would report information about the attack and fallout to the bunker which was then collated and dispersed as required. It would also have been used to plan civil defense strategies for the local area.
The bunker is set over 3 levels the first of which contains the entrance, air/water filter rooms and decontamination areas. Level 2 contains the Kitchen, Plant room complete with diesel generator and the BT Communications suite for connection to the UK War Monitoring Organisations BT Emergency Network. Most of which still exists in situ on the site. Level 3 is the beating heart of the bunker and is where the control room is located. Its central well is surrounded by rotatable tote boards. There are also perspex maps for plotting nuclear explosions and fallout predictions. Level 3 also contains the living accommodation as if an attack took place, the staff would be effectively “locked in” for a long period of time.
The property was given protected status under the Scheduled Ancient Monument Act in 2000 as is managed and operated by English Heritage who have restored the site to “operational” status and have opened it as a museum to give the public a sense of what it was like living under the threat of Nuclear war. It stands today as testemant to the work carried out by the thousands of ROC volunteers and the network in place to protect the likes of you and I in the event of World War 3.
Visitors to the site will find a wealth of information alongside original and faithful reproductions of the whole site along with expert guides to help you understand the bunker and its purpose. You will be able to view a film about the bunker and then embark on a guided tour of this unique facility.
Visitor Information: The bunker is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm 29th March – 3rd November.(correct as of August 2013) Adult Entry is £6.40 with Children 5-15 priced at £3.80. Concessions available.
More information and how to find the Bunker can be found on the English Heritage York Cold War Bunker Site.
I would like to thank Rachael Bowers (Site Manager) and Steven Parker (Photographer) for their help on this article.