York Cold War Bunker

When you think about it, how the Earth is still a planet and not lots of little bits of rubble flying around in space is mind boggling. After World War II, the world entered a period of tension which lasted all the way to 1991, where at any moment that big red button could have been pressed and we would all be sent to oblivion with little bits of us floating around in space.

I urge you not to think about it for too long, and just be thankful that it is all over. However, we have been left with rotting and rusting relics such as weapons, bunkers and aircraft hangers, and with some interest, a Cold War relic is quite nearby Attraction Hunting Towers.

With English Heritage membership cards in our hands, we had visited most places around home, so started to look a little further afield.

We had had them for about 6 months by now and although they are great, we started to get a little bored by crumbling brick work and open fields. It was starting to become a bit like all the places were merging into one ornate stonework memory where we would look at the stones, and play a bit of hide and seek before going home.

We decided to head a little further north and visit York, there were a few bits and bobs up there we could visit with our membership cards, then I saw the York Cold War Bunker – that was something that sounded interesting, and English Heritage describe it as the most modern and spine chilling properties they own.

I liked the sound of this, spine chilling is up my street, I have a curious mind for the ‘what ifs’ in our world, and I knew very little over and above the basics about the Cold War, so we planned that would be our first stop of the day.

On the website we found that the Cold War Bunker was not a place we could just rock up at and wander around, it was far more organised than that, with 1 hour guided tours at specific times. We decided to get there for the first one at 10am (please double check the website for the latest opening and tour times!).

Parking the car at the Bunker is a challenge in itself, the area surrounded by housing, and just off a main road, there are only 2 or 3 spaces dedicated to the museum, which means you aren’t going to get a car parking space, and it is surrounded by flats and houses, which means the residents aren’t going to take kindly to their drives being used as car parks. I advise you not to tur off the main road, and find a space somewhere out front, leaving you with a short walk, believe me, don’t pass an empty space, somebody will have filled it once you have done a circuit!

The tour is guided by a number of English Heritage staff who do an excellent job of describing everything in the now abandoned shelter, from the behind the scenes machinery such as air filters and vents to sleeping bunkers and day to day operations, including stories of how the workers were at the front line of the war should the unthinkable happen, yet would probably be killed due to testing the outside air on a regular basis.

You get to tour every part of the bunker, getting sights such as the operations rooms, private rooms and the ancient computers used to connect to other bunkers and the government to enable communication.

Of course, we can look back now and say thank god it didn’t happen; however, you can’t help but feel a little fear that so much was expected.

I would urge everybody to visit the Cold War Bunker in York, no matter if you think you have an interest or not, it’s a place that will really educate you and make you think.

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