Another in my periodic series on how to visit little known places.
Whilst well known in subterranean and military lore – there are few members of the general public who are aware that in addition to the infamous Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall, there was in fact a second reserve bunker for the War Cabinet in London.
Built to come into action if the main Whitehall bunker was hit by bombs, the reserve bunker was only once used for a Cabinet level meeting – and was largely forgotten after the war.
Built about 40 ft underground on the site of a former Post Office research facility – the bunker is in North London, a short walk from Neasden tube station.
I am not going to give you a detailed history of the place, as it is very well recounted elsewhere, and a good summary exists over at my friends at Subterranea Britannica.
However, what I am going to tell you about is how to visit the place.
The bunker is generally closed to the public as it is very, very damp and quite mucky – but as a condition of the land ownership being transferred to the housing trust above ground, they have an obligation to open the bunker on two days per year.
The main date is in September when they open on London Open House Weekend, but I personally would avoid that visit if possible as it is usually busy and also there are a lot of other places to visit that weekend as it is.
The other date – and in my mind a better one, is a Thursday in Springtime and on that date, members of SubBrit are there to take people round the place.
Updated: The 2011 visit dates are announced as 5th May and 17th September.
To reserve a place for the May visit, contact Katy Bajina on 020 8782 4239 or firstname.lastname@example.org (Sept bookings from August)
Specify how many tickets you want and any preference for am/pm. Visits are free of charge.
As mentioned above, it is quite wet and dirty so if going, you should wear the sort of clothing you would wear if going out for a walk in the countryside.
I particularly like this bunker as it is unrestored, and indeed in quite a poor state, but that only adds to the experience of a visit. Being in Neasden, it is also coincidentally only a short trip on the Jubilee Line to Westminster to its more famous brother for a comparison visit.
More information from the Stadium Housing Association.
Other postings in the series of how to visit places: