NSF (UK) delegates visit Winston Churchill’s top secret Cabinet War Room bunker in North West London
Winston Churchill had said “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see” and so it was back to the future for team NSF(UK) braving yet another “rainy event day” on Saturday 22nd September 2018.
Fifteen of us in comfortable clothing, armed with various protection from the rain, made our way to this historic site in Dollis Hill, North West London to get a feel for what it felt like being the leaders of the United Kingdom during the historic World War II period (1939-1945). If you recall during that War, Germany regularly bombed the capital, London, in what was referred to as “The Blitz”.
To protect its citizens the government converted places including train stations such as Aldwych, to air-raid shelters with bunk beds and toileting facilities.It also had to make provisions to keep the leadership team functioning with the ability to make and communicate key decisions that no doubt must have contributed to the outcome of the war. Hence the need to build this purpose built top secret bunker that cost millions of pounds in today’s money.
Churchill had also said .”The price of greatness is responsibility” and we felt the sense of being in the presence of greatness. We marvelled at the human ingenuity that took place then on that site. From, the engineering feat of the structure itself, buried deep underground and capable of supporting a functioning government to other engineering accomplishments which included; the strength of the structure to withstand the bombs at the time, the solutions to light, power and air pollution (gas attacks). The other spin offs included the deployment of cutting edge technologies at the time. Examples include for; communication (telex) , lighting (fluorescent tubes) and even a fully fitted broadcasting studio and the intelligence unit (code breakers). The latter no doubt deciphering the telex messages before passing them on to government officials. All, perhaps a foundation and a vital link to our present.
It was sheathed in secrecy and on a "need to know basis". Amazingly an ex-worker had confirmed that she only had access to certain areas and was not aware of the full functionality of the bunker nor the occupants.
“The pessimist sees difficulty with every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” “Never, never,never give up.“ A few other famous Churchill quotes that showed how resilient the British leaders and people were in facing up to so much adversity then.
We’re extremely grateful to the tour operators , especially our knowledgeable tour guide @SubBrit, from Subterranea Britannica (www.subbrit.org.uk/) who brought this period to life. Also our special thanks to Maria and Katy @NetworkHomesUK , who both facilitated our visit. For more information about Churchill's bunker, visit: www.networkhomes.org.uk/paddock/