08 May 2014

Edgbaston Bunker

Below the garden of what was originally an Edwardian family residence in sedate Meadow Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, lies a Cold War bunker. Constructed in 1954 to be used by up to 80 civil defence bureaucrats in the event of nuclear war, the extensive facility is a single-storey structure in concrete, with steps down from one entrance (top) and up to two fire exits (below).

The bunker could produce its own power, using diesel engines and generating sets, and had its own store of water. Never used for its intended purpose, in 1956 the space provided temporary shelter to refugees who had fled the Hungarian Uprising.

The mansion and surrounding land, including the bunker, was sold by Sandwell Metropolitan Council, for the West Midlands Fire and Civil Defence Authority, in 1990. The council made it a rather insane condition of the sale that, if nuclear war had not broken out by 2003, the bunker was to be demolished. It's still there.

At points during the 1990s the bunker was reportedly used for raves. It was at some juncture converted by the owners into a social club, complete with bar (above), pool table, band practice room, and skittles alley, originally the main corridor (below).

The naivety of those 'preparing' for nuclear war is illustrated by the fact that the bunker lies downhill from a large reservoir, damage to which would have flooded the secure site. Ironically, it was fire, in the form of arson, that ultimately did for something that would supposedly survive a nuclear attack.

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