Home for the next twenty years

As we will discover below, when building somewhere to hide the most important people in the country from nuclear death, there is secret, top secret, and then there is “not very top secret”. There are places to rent, places to see, and places that may well be buried under concrete by now. We invite you to peruse our list of Six Secret Bunkers You Can (Probably) Visit.

1. Hack Green Nuclear Bunker

The dangers of bbq.

There’s not much on TV, no films at the cinema, and you’re slightly worried about an impending nuclear holocaust – your typical Saturday afternoon, right? Well, one option would be to go and visit a former government nuclear bunker, hunkered down among the sleepy idylls of Cheshire. The site was still officially classified until 1993, and was initially built as part of Britain’s secret network of radar stations in the 1950s. By 1982, the fear of Soviet invasion was dwarfed by the fear that they’d only bother doing that after a barrage of multi-megatons nuclear attacks. So, it was rebuilt at a cost of £32,000,000 (£70,000,000 today).

Bonfire night in Cheshire hits new heights.

When upgrading a radar station to a blast-proof nuclear centre of command, it requires more than you’re typical conservatory extension. Life support, ministerial communications offices, decontamination facilities and – as you can probably guess - large, blast-proof doors. Quite why they didn’t install a bar is beyond comprehension, though we suspect its existence may simply have remained classified.

You can even watch the films they were going to beam out once the nation’s ability to watch TV had been devastated by nuclear attack – charming.

2. Burlington’s Secret City

Notice the ‘fire exit’ sign in our top, top, top secret bunkers.

This is kind of a tough one to visit, but not impossible. Why is it interesting? It isn’t just a bunker, it’s an entire underground city. Well, city might be pushing it, but it was designed to accommodate up to 4,000 people for up to 3 months with zero contact from the outside world. Recently declassified, the site has had more names than Marlon Brando's had doughnuts, going through Stockwell, Subterfuge, Turnstile, Hawthorne Central Government War Headquarters and the intriguing “Site Three”.

A map of the site we have sneakily procured for you.

The site was initially conceived in the mid-50s, and was completed by 1961. That’s a staggering piece of work, given that no-one was meant to know about it and they had to build over 60 miles of road, an infirmary, a bakery, workshops, eating areas, living areas, etc. – and all of that 100 feet underground. Note the presence on the map of a long “unused area” right next to the accommodation – need I whisper “still classified drinking establishment” any louder?

3. Bunker for Sale

“…and it’s close to all the local amenities…”

We don’t know whether to believe this or not. It looks too amateurish to be fake, if you know what we mean. But, for secret bunkers you can visit, we found one that was actually for sale in Yorkshire, England. It is equipped, as they proudly proclaim, with comfortable bunk beds for up to four people, a stove, a petrol generator (careful on the smoking) and lighting provided by “12 volt batteries”. I doubt it's exactly as described. I’ve certainly never managed to light a disused nuclear bunker with a battery alone, but you get the picture.

This is where it is. Obviously, the RAF chose the most likely site of a nuclear attack to build a hidey-hole.

The site warns of the unlikeliness of getting planning permission to build a house on top of your shiny new nuclear hunker bunker, but then there is the advantage of owning possibly the coolest cubby-hole in history. The bunker was, as they once more proudly proclaim, featured in the Telegraph in 2008, in the mighty Yorkshire Post supplement in 2004, and in the BBC’s “Inside Out” series. Whatever that may be, we’re sure it’s a barrel of laughs.

UPDATE: It is now, tragically, sold – still, we’ve given you a picture of where it is. Giving you the chance to neighbourly.

4. The Kelvedon Hatch

Quite how we can be more specific than this, I’m not sure.

Despite not being the most well hidden Secret Nuclear Bunker, this site boldly claims to be “the biggest and deepest cold war bunker open to the public in South West England!”. You see, of all the Cold War bunkers that are open to the public, and that are located not just in England but specifically in the South West of England, of all of those, they’re not only the biggest, but also the deepest. There are some cool things associated with this similar to the Hack Green site, insofar as it was initially part of the radar network, was then reconstructed to be a regional command centre and was then decommissioned in the early ‘90s. There is one all important difference however.

You can hire it out.

A nuclear blast-proof door being enjoyed by a bunker enthusiast.

The tragic aspect is the fact that they won’t hire it out to parties for people aged between 12 and 40. Personally, I wouldn’t hire anything out to a group of eight-year olds.

5. Honecker’s House

A popular guy, this Honecker.

In case you’re growing tired of this “terrified of the Communist threat nuking the West to pieces” malarkey, we’ve selected something completely different. Here, you can visit a nuclear bunker where Communists went to hide, terrified as they were of the Western nuclear threat. Somehow, the pointlessness of the Cold War becomes clearer. The German government opened it to the public for three months and threatened to concrete it over. We have received no news that this has happened yet.

The East Germans it seems were somewhat less sneaky than their Russian and British counterparts. The man charged with the construction of a safehouse for their esteemed government leader described it as “not that top secret” – a classification hitherto unknown to most cloak and dagger organisations. One aspect in which it dwarfs the other sites on the list is its depth – in this case it goes down 230 ft.

6. The BBC’s Secret Nuclear Bunker

There’s a bunker there, we’re not even kidding.

Well, you can’t buy it or rent it, and it isn’t something designed to hole up government ministers while Armageddon unfolds above them. In that respect it's unique. Also, it's still in use as… well, as a secret bunker. You clearly can visit it though, as illustrated by the fetching ‘visitors’ sign above. What’s more, and rather charmingly, the BBC are denying its existence and denying what goes on there – none of this declassified nonsense.

This isn’t the bunker (well, its above ground, for a start) – however, this is where it is based.

The bunker was built in the 1960s, with those involved in its construction sworn to secrecy by the government. The purpose wasn’t to make sure the nation’s treasures – Richard and Judy, for example – were amply protected from nuclear fallout, but to make sure that there was some way of communicating with the wider population should the very worst happen. One of the few bunkers that admits to any entertainment, there are apparently ping-pong tables, as well as beds.