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Report - Drakelow Tunnels, Staffordshire - Sep 2009

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by Adders, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. Adders

    Adders living in a cold world
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    The extensive Drakelow underground complex was originally constructed during world war two as a shadow factory for the Rover car company.( Rover were at this time manufacturing engines for the Bristol aircraft Company ). It was to serve as a feeder plant supplying components to Rover's two main shadow factories at Acocks Green and Solihull, to supply spare parts and also to act as a back-up facility enabling continuity of production if either of the main shadow factories was damaged by enemy action. The tunnels have a total length of 3.5 mi (5.6 km) to 4 mi (6.4 km), covering 250,000 sq ft 200 ft beneath a sandstone ridge in Kingsford Country Park near the village of Kinver, Staffordshire.

    A rough timeline of its' history;

    1940's = Shadow factory producing plane and tank engines.
    1950's = Used by the Ministry of Supply for storage.
    1960's = Converted to Regional Seat of Government, Region 9 (RSG9)
    1980's = Home Office spent a reputed two million pounds on refurbishing and upgrading around 25 to 30% of the original area to provide accommodation for a new Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ) this incorporatted many areas of the 1960's RSG.
    1990's = The Drakelow site was decommissioned and sold to private owners in 1993.

    Unfortunately the tour only covers less than quarter of the site, but the owners started stripping out any machinery and metal left on site for scrap last year, so the quality of things to see has deteriorated. Due to some roof collapses you can't venture in to some of the older parts of the factory, but with Paul as our tour guide I was more than happy to stay with him. That guy knows ALOT.

    1940's games room, 1980's canteen.

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    1980's kitchen, including mechanical apple corer + peeler on the left there. You know, because there'll be loads of apples during nuclear fallout.

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    Attack warning system.

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    1 of the 2 generators which would have powered the bunker.

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    First avenue, part of th factory complex. These giant tunnel spaces would have had the machinery and equipment needed to produce engines for the war effort.

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    Part of the sealed off area towards the other factory tunnels. The entrance was bricked up, but Airsofters had broken through the wall.

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    Side office.

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    It almost looks like it's out of a Bond film.

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    Some relics of machinery are still in situ, although their future is uncertain too.

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    The factory dining room and canteen.

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    One of the original tanoy speakers. The speakers were used more for playing music to the workers, lifting the moral of working underground.

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    Original communications unit from Shropshire County Council, it used public BT network to communicate to ROC posts and other headquarters. If the power supplying the BT network went down then TA radio frequencies were used to carry messages between posts.

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    One of the control consoles in the BBC studio.

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    Broadcast BBC studio.

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    Apart from the toilets, the doctors surgery and operating theatre is the only room which has maintained the same use throughout each conversion of the facility.

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    In front of the women's dormitory, which was later used as a concert room for workers during lunch breaks. Former staff testimonies state the working conditions in Drakelow to be the best they'd ever experienced.

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    A wooden door near the entrance shows the natural takeover since the owners stopped maintaining the site. The dehumidifiers were turned off to save money, so the damp is slowly destroying everything.

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    The 60,000 liter water tank on the left is piped in to the Severn Trent mains, and was the primary drinking water source for the bunker. The 30,000 liter tank at the rear of the room was supplied by a bore hole which tunnels 50 foot below the bunker, taking water from the water table currently sitting in sandstone. This water is said to be better than the fresh water off the mains, and if the primary tank ran out during fallout the bore hole water could be redirected to fill the tank.

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    The entrance to the bunker is protected by 3 heavy blast doors.

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    My photos don't do the site justice, and the extensive history which is documented in Paul Stokes's book "Drakelow Unearthed" (http://www.stokes277.freeserve.co.uk/pages/du3.html) is the place you want to be looking. It's a crying shame that the facility has been left to decay like it has, luckily there are good people in the local community and preservation groups working to secure its' future, but for the time being the Trust has stopped planning public tours.

    Many thanks to Paul Stokes and everyone else involved in the tour, was a great evening out.

    Further reading:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drakelow_Tunnels
    http://www.stokes277.freeserve.co.uk/pages/drakelow.html
    http://www.drakelow.info/
     

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