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Report - The Cabinet War Rooms - Whitehall, London

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by MarkR, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. MarkR

    MarkR 28DL Member
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    Okay not exactly UE but i found it interesting to look around at the original cabinet war rooms which the 'Paddock' bunker in Neasdon was built as a back up for. Most of the site is a museum, various parts not open to the public can easily be seen by asking nicely when your there... ;)

    History:

    The Cabinet War Rooms are an underground complex that had been used as an operational command and control centre by the British government throughout the Second World War. Located beneath the Treasury building in the Whitehall area of Westminster, the facilities were abandoned in August 1945 after the surrender of Japan. The Rooms were opened to the general public in 1984, having previously been managed by the Department for the Environment.

    The Cabinet War Rooms became operational in 1939 and were heavily used by Winston Churchill during World War II. Engineered as a bunker, the facility was reinforced with a layer of concrete, one to three metres thick referred to as 'the slab'". Over 100 meetings were held in the Cabinet War Rooms between 1939 and 1945.

    The section of the War Rooms open to the public is only a portion of a much larger facility. They originally covered three acres (12,000 m²) and housed a staff of up to 528 people, with facilities including a canteen, hospital, shooting range and dormitories. The centrepiece of the War Rooms is the Cabinet Room itself, where Churchill's War Cabinet met. The Map Room is located nearby, from where the course of the war was directed. It is still in much the same condition as when it was abandoned, with the original maps still on the walls and telephones lining the desks. Churchill slept in a small nearby bedroom although he only slept in the war rooms for three nights over the course of the war. One feature of the bunker was a telephone scrambler system that allowed Churchill to securely speak with President Roosevelt in the White House. The unit was concealed as the Prime Minister's lavatory.

    Entrance and remaining surface evidence of the concrete 'slab':

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    Some photos of the bunker in use during WW2:

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    2009:

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  2. tommo

    tommo shire lad born & breeding
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    me and kplemner69 did this back in may after doing paddock, its a nice little place to have a look round and some interesting stuff and history

    its cool where they cut out the roof part so u can see the slab ceiling

    but found it a nightmare to photo this place, with all the glass the flash was a head ache, could of done witha tripod with me really :thumb

    also would of been nice to get in the lower section, the service side of it

    ohh and the really annoying foreign kids running round there school trip:crazy
     
  3. Isiah_Sheepworrier

    Isiah_Sheepworrier 28DL Full Member
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    There's an article on the BBC website today on how, despite the concrete slab, the war rooms weren't considered to be bombproof.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8158099.stm

    Churchill bunker 'not bomb-proof'
    By Sean Coughlan
    BBC News

    Winston Churchill complained he had been "sold a pup" when he discovered his underground wartime headquarters in Whitehall were not bomb-proof.

    A letter showing Churchill's annoyance when he discovered this security flaw is on display at the Cabinet War Rooms.

    Despite his protests, the prime minister continued to work from this bunker during the Blitz.

    The letter, written in September 1940, says the war rooms "cannot be made bomb-proof in any sense".

    The Cabinet War Rooms, now open to the public, were used as an underground command centre throughout World War II.

    Built close to Downing Street and the nerve centres of government departments, it allowed the prime minister to stay in central London during air-raids.

    But an exhibition opening next month in the former headquarters, will show how vulnerable this building was to attack - and how fortunate it was never to have received a direct hit.

    The letter, written by senior civil servant Patrick Duff to Cabinet Secretary Sir Edward Bridges, describes Churchill's shock at finding the weakness of the rooms used by the war cabinet and military leaders.

    "The PM said I had 'sold him a pup' in letting him think that this place is a real bomb-proof shelter, whereas it is nothing of the kind," wrote Mr Duff.

    The letter goes on to say that it is "totally impracticable to make anything of the nature of a bomb-proof dug-out within this building".

    It meant that while Nazi leader Adolf Hitler operated from headquarters encased in layers of concrete, Churchill and his staff were sleeping in rooms only 10 feet below ground.

    Exhibition curator Cressida Finch says the war rooms were "in effect a basement rather than a bunker".

    "This whole episode tells us a lot about Churchill's personal bravery. Although he was angry on learning that the war rooms were not completely safe, he was determined not to leave central London and be seen as abandoning Londoners," she says.

    'Vulnerable'

    There were several near misses during air raids. But, despite efforts to strengthen the building, including the placing of a reinforced concrete slab, there were doubts whether it would have withstood a direct hit.

    "This letter certainly makes clear Churchill's surprise and indignation at being handed a potentially vulnerable bunker," says Phil Reed, director of the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms.

    The underground control centre from which Churchill directed the war effort and communicated with allies such as President Franklin Roosevelt, had originally been the storage rooms of the Office of Works.

    With the threat of war approaching, the basement was sandbagged and hastily converted into what was expected to be a temporary command centre, completed and made operational one week before Hitler invaded Poland in 1939.

    This network of tunnels and offices grew in size and significance, becoming a political and military headquarters and living space for hundreds of staff.

    The long hours spent underground meant that staff were required to use sun lamps.

    Shut down at the end of the war, the rooms were re-opened as a museum in the 1980s.

    The exhibition, Undercover: Life in Churchill's Bunker, opens on 27 August to mark the 70th anniversary of when the war rooms entered service.
     
  4. BillAnd

    BillAnd Badass dare devil gangsta
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    the concrete slab - is simply a 'blast wall', an means of deflecting a blast wave. A simple yet crued method of deflecting blasts usually found outside bomb houses etc

    nice report
     
  5. Runner

    Runner 28DL Full Member
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    Don't blast walls have a rubble filling to absord the pressure wave?
     
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