Cambridge nuclear bunker to get facelift

Image caption,
The bunker off Brooklands Avenue, Cambridge, was built in 1953

A concrete relic of the Cold War is to be revamped and brought back into use after remaining untouched for 65 years.

The bunker, formerly known as RSG-4, was built in 1953 to house 300 local government officials from Cambridge in the event of a nuclear attack.

The University of Cambridge, which acquired the building in the 1990s, will convert it for specialist storage use over the next 18 months.

A spokesman described the building as "an interesting piece of history".

Image caption,
The inside of the bunker is a warren of corridors, dormitories and offices
Image caption,
Many of the rooms were designated for government officials of the time

The two-storey time capsule is a dusty warren of strip-lit corridors, large dormitories and offices, each labelled for different government departments of the period.

The exterior concrete walls are 1.5m (5ft) thick, with entry restricted to a single, combination-locked metal door.

Image caption,
The bunker's exterior concrete walls are 1.5m (5ft) thick
Image caption,
The bunker consists of two storeys and a basement, but has never been used

In the centre of the basement is a "war room", flanked on two sides by observation rooms connected by reinforced convex screens.

A giant diesel generator, wiring and soundproof walls are also part of its original features.

Image caption,
The central "war room" connected by small wooden hatches and surrounded by convex screens
Image caption,
The bunker was built in 1953 and bought by the university in the late 1990s

The bunker stands in 3,000 sq m (0.75 acres) of land off Brooklands Avenue, close to the university's botanical garden.

Steve Matthews, facilities support manager at the university, said it would have been the communications centre for local government and had bunk-bed space for more than 300 people.

"This was where they would co-ordinate everything - from the police to the military and hospitals - once they'd locked themselves in and were able to understand what was going on outside," he said.

"There are lots of little corners, little snippets of the 1960s. It's an interesting piece of history."

Image caption,
Steve Matthews said the bunker would retain many of its original features

The university bought the site in the late 1990s for more than £1m, but has so far left the building untouched.

Replastering and asbestos removal is under way before the rooms inside are prepared for long-term, temperature-controlled storage.

"Anything we do will respect the building, and we'll try to keep as many of its original features but still make it a usable space for the university," Mr Matthews said.

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