how does a lifelong fascination with underground bunkers begin?
For Nick McCamley author of Secret Underground Cities it began in
the summer of 1967.
Home from college for the weekend Nick met up with an old school
friend who told him about a really strange place he had found.
The previous weekend, his friend had been out cycling and stumbled
across a large building in the middle of a field in the middle of
The building had black pipes radiating out from it in all directions.
The pipes spread out across the field before disappearing underground.
He didn’t know what it was but it was really strange.
and a friend decided to check it out
"It was really strange," says Nick "it was like an
The building sat at the end of a long concrete road. It had no windows
just two huge steel loading bay doors and a small door on the side.
Everything was completely derelict.
"The door was a bit rotten," says Nick "we managed
to prize it open and climb in.
"Inside the building was pitch black, so we set light to some
bits of paper and wandered around."
Farleigh - upper terminus of Farleigh Down Tunnel
Running along the back of the building was a conveyer belt. The belt
disappeared through a hole in the end wall covered by a rubber flap.
Curious the boys lifted the rubber flap and climbed through.
Before they knew it they were whistling down a sharp 45° incline:
"We couldn’t stop ourselves," says Nick "We slid off
down and finished up about 100 feet underground."
Deep underground and not knowing how they were going to get back out
the boys were running out of matches.
Fumbling around in the dark, Nick felt a box on the wall with switches.
"So I turned a few switches and this corridor lit up ahead of
us," says Nick.
A corridor that went on for about half a mile.
tunnel in Monkton Farleigh
That was just the start of it.
"All the corridors had rubber conveyer belts," says Nick
"we found you could push buttons by the side of them and they
would start up and we could ride them."
The amazing labyrinth of air-conditioned tunnels and chambers went
on for miles. Passageways branched off at right angles into further
passageways and on and on.
"We were down there all day," says Nick.
It was only some time later that Nick realised that he had unwittingly
discovered the Monkton Farleigh Mine.
Monkton Farleigh was one of three massive depots used by the MOD in
World War II as a Central Ammunition Store.
Extending under some 200 acres of north Wiltshire countryside the
depot could house over 350,000 tons of ammunition.
Served by a network of railways, including a branch of the main London
to Bristol railway line,
the depot even had it's own system of underground powerhouses to provide
electricity for the 100,000 lamps that lit it's streets.
tunnel in Monkton Farleigh
By 1963 military thinking, however, had turned away from conventional
arms to nuclear weaponry which didn't require a lot of storage.
All the conventional weapons stores were literally abandoned virtually
"Monkton Farleigh had closed down 2 years before we found it,"
says Nick "the MOD had just walked away from it.
"They’d left everything intact all the power on just literally
Farleigh is one of numerous underground citadels, factories, bunkers
and command centres hidden deep under the Wiltshire countryside.
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