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Report - Southern Railway Control Bunker, Woking, Surrey – December 2015

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, Dec 28, 2015.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    With thanks to BHG’s 2013 report for the history:


    That the clouds of war had been gathering over Europe for some considerable time before September 1939 is undisputed, and all of the Big Four railway companies had themselves been very conscious of this fact. The Southern Railway had taken several positive steps long before the start of the war, which principally involved a planned decentralisation of the stores departments and the administrative offices of the company.

    Their emergency headquarters away from the London area, which would undoubtedly be subjected to bombardment from the air, was to be in a large and imposing country house at Deepdene near Dorking. Another house at Elmstead Woods in Kent, and some space in the old locomotive works at Brighton were also taken and set aside for offices. In addition to this accommodation, there were to be three divisional headquarters located at Woking, Redhill and Orpington, each one having its own re-enforced underground chamber for the control staff. These “Battle Headquarters” were occupied from the very start of the war.

    The Woking headquarters was to control the extensive “London West” area. Woking station itself was the hub of London West Division Area Number 4, controlling the old South Western main line from Byfleet Junction down to Winchester Junction, together with various important connections to other lines and the two branches leaving the main line at Brookwood, one into the Brookwood Cemetery, and the other to Bisley Camp and Pirbright (both long since closed and lifted).

    These control arrangements continued during and for many years after the war, and even in its later years the Woking Underground control office boasted some nine controllers, each with telephone facilities, having direct contact with all the signal boxes in the various numbered areas. Apparently most of the controllers were to note the passing times of every train at various points in their respective areas, in order to establish early or late running and monitor traffic movements generally. With their special ability to divert traffic around any incidents, i.e. breakdowns, derailments, engineering works, etc. These arrangements were presumably very much the same in wartime, with added interference to traffic from air attacks. A locomotive control man and a driver’s guards control man were also part of the team, with their own special tasks of co-ordinating provision of motive power and planning crew duty rosters.

    Woking Southern Railway Traffic Underground Control Centre remained operational until the 1960s. Documentation that I saw on this explore dated from 1967.

    The bunker shows signs of fire damage.


    DESCRIPTION:


    The main control room is perhaps 10 or 12 feet wide and about 20 feet long with air locks leading off at both ends up to the surface entrances. The air locks consist of steel doors with small glass panels and bearing inscriptions that read “Upon hearing a purple, red or gas warning close all steel doors when entering or leaving the shelter. The first door must be closed before opening the second”.

    Parallel to the main office are four smaller rooms, entered through a third door from within the air lock at the east end of the shelter. The last of these four rooms is also connected directly to the main control room at the west end via a small door. These smaller rooms contained a telephone exchange, warm air ventilation plant, electrical control apparatus, and one room was used by the local Electricity Board as a substation, presumably supplying the offices above. There were no toilets provided in the shelter and the walls were apparently just whitewashed.


    REPORT:


    A short passageway leads to the airlock, with 3 blast doors present:

    [​IMG]

    The left exit from the airlock leads to a narrow corridor, with four small rooms:

    [​IMG]

    One of these small rooms was an electrical substation:

    [​IMG]

    And the largest fuse I have ever seen:

    [​IMG]

    The final small room was a telephone exchange:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Returning the air lock, I made my way through a blast door on the right side of the airlock and into the main control room:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Documentation found on one of the benches, dated 1967 and something about temporary travel restrictions:

    [​IMG]

    Old telephones also found on the benches:

    [​IMG]

    At the back of the main control room was the emergency exit, now back filled with rubble:

    [​IMG]


    Thanks for reading.
     
    ClaireM, WatchDog82, Lil'Legs and 4 others like this.

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  2. Oort

    Oort The spice expands consciousness.
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    King of understatement lol.
     
  3. dweeb

    dweeb Super Moderator
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    Looks fantastic! Some interesting period bits in there for sure, which is more than can be said for a lot of similar bunkers, fire damaged or not!
     
  4. kkj

    kkj 28DL Regular User
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    nice report!
     
  5. OPEN&ENTER

    OPEN&ENTER 28DL Full Member
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  6. Mjd2901

    Mjd2901 28DL Member
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    Hey, can anybody tell me where I can enter this bunker? I'd love to get a few photos!
     
  7. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Firstly it's all sealed now.

    Secondly, it's best to put up reports from the places that you do know and gaining a bit of a reputation on here before asking for info
     
  8. Mjd2901

    Mjd2901 28DL Member
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    No problem. didn't mean to come across rudely. New to the site so will try getting a report or two up when I can get out and about.
     
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