Friday, February 13, 2009

Going Underground - Part One

In October 2006, I wrote this posting about a visit to a decommissioned British Government nuclear bunker. It was one of the strangest and most disturbing places I have ever visited.

Yesterday I made a return visit and although I wasn't expecting to find the car park full of day trippers, I was surprised to find that I was the bunker's only visitor. It made the whole experience even spookier.

For two hours I was in one of the safest places in Britain and if anyone had decided to launch an impromptu nuclear strike, I would have been completely unscathed. Physically, at least. Mentally, I'm not sure how well I'd have coped with living on a diet of Huntley and Palmers biscuits with only a malodorous Essex farmer to keep me company.

While I was in the bunker I took lots of photos, but they don't really capture the unsettling atmosphere of the place, so I've also made this short film with some added BBC Radiophonic musique concrete from the late 1960s. The music goes a bit mad at the end, but then so did I:

9 comments:

The Archduchess said...

Eerie...
I visited the atomic bunkers in Berlin, the atmosphere was surreal. All metal and tile and concrete--even the beds!
Would it be preferable to die in a nuclear strike or survive and be driven crazy by the monotony?

Scriptor Senex said...

In answer to the Archduchess, it depends whether it had a library or not!

The Dotterel said...

Good point, Scrip. My father was a local govt officer in the seventies and had to spend weekends playing war-games in the county council's bunker in East Yorkshire. He said it was like being in a large lift!

Richard de pesando MA(RCA) said...

brilliant stuff, really enjoyed that.

Brett said...

Thanks for that. It's like the deserted bunkers in the game Fallout. I half expected to see a ruined world upon emerging at the end. Judging by the equipment, it must have been in use right up to the end of the cold war.

AF said...

..Yes it is rather eerie - but fascinating all the same.Visited last year and it definitely has that other-worldly feel to it especially when exiting into the sunlight of a very hot day in August when it had been quite chilly down in the bunker. Steerforth,enjoyed your post.

Steerforth said...

Yes, I first visited the bunker in August and the contrast was striking.

As far as having a library in the bunker is concerned, I couldn't imagine reading a novel in that situation. Every line would be a painful reminder of everything that had been destroyed.

I would have to watch bad TV - maybe a loop of 'My Family' to convince me that it was all for the best.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

A Dr Who set just waiting to happen!

Great vid Steerforth. The music really complemented the unsettlingly eerie atmosphere.

The things some people will do to recession-proof themselves, eh?

JRSM said...

Amazing stuff: thanks for taking the time to make that video--creepy, creepy gear.