BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Things to do
People & Places
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Cambridgeshire


Related BBC Sites


Contact Us

For Sale - The Cambridge nuclear bunker!
The Cambridge nuclear bunker is overgrown with ivy, plants and trees
The bunker has stood empty for over a decade
Did you know that Cambridge has its very own nuclear bunker? Built in the 1950's to serve as a regional seat of government, the bunker has been given Grade II listed status and is currently up for sale!
  see also  

BBC News: Plans to demolish nuclear bunker

BBC News: Bidder rush to net nuclear bunkers

New leisure centre for Cambridge

BBC Restoration

  internet links  

Subterranea Britannica
A society devoted to the study and investigation of man-made (including Nuclear Bunkers) and man-used underground places.

Coutryside Properties

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.


BBC engineers were halfway through re-fitting a studio inside the bunker - but it was left unfinished.

  print this page  
  View a printable version of this page  
contact us - have your say

Take a look round the bunker with our photo gallery »

The original war room
The original war room

The bunker is situated off Brooklands Avenue on the site of the old regional government offices. It was built after the second world war in the 1950's as a regional war room. It would have been used if war broke out again and Britain came under attack from atomic bombs such as those dropped on Japan.

With concern about the Cold War, the original bunker was extended in the 60's. A new section was added to the back which increased the total size by about two thirds. It would have been used as a regional seat of government - one of only two purpose-built RSGs from this period.

The generator
The generator - hardly used

In the early 1990's, refurbishment began on the bunker. Halfway through, at the end of the Cold War in 1991, a government white paper was issued which resulted in the closure of the site and the plans were abandoned.

Artist's Impression of the new development
An artist's impression of the planned development

For more than a decade, the bunker has stood empty and unused. Developers who recently bought the former government site had planned to demolish the bunker and other government buildings to make way for 382 new apartments and townhouses.

However, English Heritage expressed concerns about the proposals to demolish the structure, saying that the bunker is of national importance. It has since been given Grade II listed status and has been saved from demolition.

Bunker for sale!
The bunker has been for sale for the past 12 months. Being such an unusual building, there has been a lot of interest, but because of the Grade II listing there are certain restrictions about what can be done to the structure.

The front entrance to the bunker
5 ft thick concrete walls!

Counrtyside Properties and Kajima Ltd who are joint developers on the site, say that although the 5 ft thick concrete structure would have been hard to demolish, there were numerous reasons to knock it down: It was never used for its intended purpose and most of the original equipment has been removed. It will be difficult and expensive to renovate the bunker as it only has one way in and one way out, there's no natural light and any ventilation has to be artificially provided.

So with this in mind, what sort of person will buy the bunker, and what will they use it for?

Bidwells Property Consultants who are looking after the sale of the bunker say that they've had various offers and proposals including using the bunker for storage. There is no guide price for the bunker, but the developers are open to offers. All enquiries should go through Bidwells.

Find out more about the bunker by taking a tour with our photo gallery »


Have Your Say
What do you think about the bunker? Do you think it should have been demolished? Should it be preserved as an important building which says something about Britain in the 50's and 60's? What would you do with it if you bought it?

Your Comments:

Seb Richardson
I think the bunker should be turned into a museam, I think it would make a great, interesting atraction.

This should be preserved for posterity. If we demolish this building we are destroying our history.

Fran Sherratt
I would live in it. somewhere warm and dry, not too near to anyone! brilliant. Whereabouts? No location given

Fran Sherratt
How much

open it up to the public as a artifact of the time!

Opn it to the public as a museum to the 1950s

david ritchie
it should be kept to show what life was like it the 1950

steven eddison
we should preserve our history for future education

You would have more chance buying a bunker in north korea than you could in britian.

Guy Bettley-Cooke
The battle to save the RSG bunker has been won. The building is to become a secure document archive, using some of the original generating equipment on a daily basis. Much interior walling will be removed, especially in the 1964 extension, but a full photographic record has been made and any items of historic interset removed will be offered to appropriate museum collections. The exterior will remain largely unchanged. The building should be added to the various city architectural guides, which have overlooked it to date, due to its former secrecy!

Alex Green
Did you know that Cambridgeshire is soon to get its own voluntry Search & Rescue team and they are in desperate need of an HQ. This building would be perfect for them. With some grant funding the building could be turned into their SAR HQ whilst keeping within the Grade 2 listing requirements and retain all its original features. The team could then open it to the public as a means of raising funds. This way everyone wins, the building isn't left to rack and ruin it would be used as a control centre (much like its original purpose) and would not end up being used to store boxes. The public would also get to see it thus preserving this interesting building. I say let Cambridgeshire Search & Rescue have it.

Adam McLoughlin
That place could host some wicked parties

adam o'neil
this is part ofor heritage and should not be destroyed, far too many of these historical sites are being demolished, they should be preserved for future generations to observe!

john hawkins
openit to tourists

Guy Bettley-Cooke
The date of the full public planning inquiry has now been set to run from 16th May 2006, for three days. This will be held at The Guildhall in Cambridge.

I think this is a part of heritage that should be kept for future generations to look at, and refelct...

I live british built colonial house, in Singapore,also with the Bunker.We love it.!

Ward Westwater
It is so easy to forget about the Cold war, it is a fact and buildings like this should be kept to remind future generations of how close we came to wiping ourselves out.

I'd buy it and live in it, but it should remain where it is.

Guy Bettley-Cooke
A second comment, for those interested to know! The decision by Cambridge City Council NOT to stand in the way of the buildings demolition has been over-ruled by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, and the decision will now go to a full public enquiry, to be held in Cambridge, probably in Jan '06. This is very good news for the future of the building.

I am sure we have more modern and hi tech replacements that we nothing about. Never the less they are part of history so preserve them for posterity.

There are other shelters in Cambridge, one is the Sleeperz hotlet, another is the old Cambridgeshire House. If you look they have metal panel fixtures where the windows are.

This reprosents a horrific part of humanity, and some may think that monuments this this era of cold war should be forgotten. I for one think that such instalations should be kept to remind those of the future just how things could have turned out.

D Shepherd
How many of us knew it was there?? It sounds so amazing and should be kept! the history that is inside it would be fascinating to history buffs! You should NEVER get rid of history, it's a reminder of things never to go back to. Open it up to the public, we'd support it even if the moneymen won't! They have no care for our heritage! SAVE THE BUNKER!!!!!

dave o'shea
its a part of our heritage.the present is built on the past.well I hope not literally!

bev maw
I believe these historic buildings should be preserved.SAVE THE BUNKER!!!!

David Farrant
It is surprising to see a city with as much interest in history as cambridge apparently so anxious to get rid of this fine example of 20th century Cold War architecture. There are few of them left, and plenty of local enthusiasm to see this one remain. The cynical ploy by the develpers to call its planned replacement affordable housing has deceived few of the locals. Their plan to retain a tiny bit of the wall of the bunker, and call it "partial demolition" was fun too. What will win the day? Money or history? This building was considered important enough to be listed. People have been coming forward with uses for it. Now is the time to save it and add another perfectly valid chapter to the rich history of a fascinating city. What would I use it for? How about moving the Folk Museum in here?

Guy Bettley-Cooke
The bunker is clearly of international architectural and socio-historical importance. It was in use as an RSG from at least 1960. The large extension was actually built in 1964 and held beds for all 450 staff. The building's importance has been recognised by The Twentieth Century Society, The Ancient Monuments Society, DoCoMoMo (in the Netherlands) as well as with English Heritage here. There are 12,000 protected parish churches in Britain, but only 2 listed Cold War bunkers. They say as much about Britain in the twentieth century as the Churches do about the 15th! obviously the Cambridge RSG must stay. Cultural history must take priority over short-term, politicised, housing reqirements.

Clive Hollins
This should be preserved so that our future generations at least have the opportunity to learning about the effects of war. There is a stark reality preserved here as there is at Duxford, Madingly, and the hundreds more war graves across our country and Europe. If you abandon this then next you close down the Imperial War Museum as irrelevent, build houses over the graves at Madingly and abandon all the memorials to material greed disguised as progress.

Francis Pullen
Yes, the bunker should be preserved and renovated, particularly if it has already been Grade II listed. Perhaps the developers could even make it into a local fee-earning feature, helping to offset some of the loss of social housing. I recently toured Kelvedon Hatch near Brentwood which is entirely underground, 5 storeys deep and imparts a real feeling of how it would have been to live in such a building - quite cramped, claustrophobic and minimalist. These places are a fascinating, if not somewhat morbid reminder, of not only how close the UK came to a nuclear engagement in the 50's and 60's, but also of why they should be preserved for future generations.

Michaela McNeill
Keep the Cambridge Bunker open for the public!

Top | Features Index | Home
Also in this section

Planet Cambridgeshire

In pictures




Out and About


Contact Us

BBC Cambridgeshire Website
104 Hills Road
(+44) 01223 589837

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy