Turnstile

Hidden away in a quite residential area of Cambridge, a short walk from the Botanical Gardens, is a surprising survival of the Cold War, an anti-nuclear-bomb bunker complex built in the 1950s, and then extended further in the early 1960s. It's a disturbing presence in 2016.

                                  The ivy-clad bunker seen from the street, with the entrance on the left.                                                                          ©Edward Burman

                                 The ivy-clad bunker seen from the street, with the entrance on the left.

                                                                        ©Edward Burman

In the event of a nuclear attack on Britain, government would continue in the Central Government Wartime Headquarters, codenamed (with a hint of Jason Bourne) ‘Turnstile’. A detailed War Book, leading ministers and hundreds of other politicians, civil servants and military officers through incredibly detailed and disturbing procedures, explained how the country would be divided into eleven regional command areas - one, fortunately, in Cambridge - to do their best for survivors without home, family, food, or future. This is where Cambridge and East Anglia would be run by those lucky enough to be admitted. It was less than a four-minute rush from government offices then located on Brooklands Avenue, so that there would be time to get there safely. Even the steps up to the bunker entrance faced the direction of the offices, to save time and facilitate entry.

an alternative centre to London for authorising nuclear retaliation
— Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on ‘Turnstile’
                             The entrance, where the thickness of the concrete walls can be clearly seen.                                                                          ©Edward Burman

                            The entrance, where the thickness of the concrete walls can be clearly seen.

                                                                        ©Edward Burman