In the late 1980’s plans were drawn up by the Government for more emergency control points around the country. During the late cold-war era, the one below the Castle Point Borough Council offices was built at the same time as the building, designed to hold officials for up to 30 days in the event of a nuclear war or major disaster. Nowadays, this wouldn’t be anywhere near strong enough to protect people from a nuclear blast so the basement complex is used as an emergency strategic command point for emergencies such as flooding, gas explosions or oil leaks.
We were given the tour by Miles Glover, the joint emergency planning officer and following the signs for the ‘Emergency Planning Control Centre’ we went down!
The first room that we came to was an information room. Scattered around are televisions, radios and computers; all displaying updates with the latest news. Everything is ready for an emergency to happen at any time and walking through to the next room, you get a proper sense of it!
This is the operations room where the main planning and negotiating would take place. Maps and vital information cover the walls and surround the table in the middle. General councillors would not go here, instead it would be for people who have an essential role to play. Councillors would be the link between the public and the ‘big men’. A small cupboard like room contains job title signs, still remaining from when the bunker was first built, from ‘Sewerage’ to ‘District Commander’. This would be placed around the table to identify who is who.
The air circulation control is done from this small room too, and can be done electronically or manually. This machine cleans the air and circulates it around the bunker as in the event of an explosion, they would not want toxic or nuclear gasses leaking in!
After this we were lead into the emergency planning stores, featured below. The beds are original however people wouldn’t sleep here today as this is where the supplies are kept ranging from bedding to pumps and even animal cages! Although tinned food may have been kept here originally, it no longer is as staff would pop to a local shop, such as Morrisons, to get supplies.
Moving onto the next room (he types feeling like a tour guide) we come to the kitchen. The dispensers that you can see are actually taps, filtering water from radioactive material. All of this is original! The room following this is the toilets which are not used due to the waste being stored in the building, so it would only be used if there was an emergency.
Walking onwards past these big beasts we came to the other entrance to the bunker where people could be decontaminated before going on further. The blue tank in the photographs is where the water (probably mixed with chemicals) used for decontamination, would be stored. We then went onto the generate room, first greeted by hazard signs! Below we can see the generator. The wire going across with the red ‘label’ on it, has magnesium on it. In the event of the generator overheating, the magnesium, which is holding the wire together, will snap and cut the generator off, causing the sprinklers in there to activate.
Notice how thick the bomb-proof doors are. In the event of the door being locked or jammed, you could insert the ‘key’ (in the yellow holder) into a hole in the door, just below the handle, and turn this to open the door. The safety cord is still on the key so it has never been used!