Just a little way out of town, beyond West Bank Park, is a leafy, residential area called Holgate. It’s close enough to town to be convenient, but far enough away to be pleasantly quiet and peaceful. It is here that dogs get walked and children play. It is a place where people live, and are happy. However, Holgate, (in particular Acomb Road), is host to a two-storey, semi-subterranean construct, imbued with all the fear and dread at odds with the calm, familial atmosphere the area radiates.
The York Cold War Bunker, an English Heritage site since 2006, was installed in 1961 to monitor any fallout from potential nuclear explosions in Yorkshire, should the worst have ever happened. It was in active service until 1991, but is now a Scheduled Monument, and was open by the organisation as a tourist attraction.
The bunker is a fascinating insight into the forgotten recent history. While operational, the facility had the ability to track the devastation of devices detonated on UK soil and to ascertain whether the fallout would affect the surrounding area. It is the only control building of its kind still preserved in its operational condition, showcasing the filtration plant, canteen, dormitories, communication equipment and computers, as well as the operations room. The bunker would have been staffed by up to sixty volunteers of the Royal Observer Corps, including a ten man United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation, responsible for the scientific information collation and subsequent warnings.
Very fortunately, no nuclear devices have been exploded on UK soil in anger. In an unsettled, hostile world, the York Cold War Bunker stands as a testament to the determined will of our nation and in memory of those that fought for our freedom.