Esoteric London

No. 587: Brook Road, NW2

Posted in Architectural, Wartime London by esotericlondon on May 29, 2012

Paddock Bunker, Brook Road, London, NW2. Photo © Roger Dean 2012

‘This is the BBC Home Service. Here is the news…’

From the information pack supplied by Network Housing Group upon issuing a ticket to visit Paddock Bunker:

In WWII, when air raid attacks became serious and the possibility of bombs feared, particularly on Whitehall, capacious shelter accommodation was urgently necessary. Chartwell Court, 151 Brook Road, originally a cutting edge wartime communications research station…was selected as the site of the new emergency auxiliary HQ to the Cabinet War Rooms…to accommodate selected personnel in the event of crisis, in a safe place.

…a purpose-built, reinforced concrete, totally bomb proof subterranean war citadel 40 feet below ground [was created]. Comprising a map room with usable wall space of 1000 sq ft, a Cabinet room with seating for 30 people and ancillary offices, housed within a sub-basement protected by a 5ft thick concrete roof, over which would be the first basement of a larger plan area containing office and a myriad of habitation amenities, 37 rooms in total, for the War Cabinet and its secretariat, chiefs of staff, joint planning committees etc….At a construction cost of £250k the work was completed in 18 months (Jan 1939-June 1940) under the strictest secrecy – even King George VI was not privy of [sic] its whereabouts’.

[ The bunker, code named Paddock, was visited by Churchill only once but it would have been his last refuge should we have lost the Battle of Britain. Designed to accommodate about 200 people, conditions would have been very unpleasant what with the lack of beds, the very basic kitchen provision, no toilets (buckets were to have been used) and the meagre rations that where expected to last 14 days. This really was to have been the last stand.

The room in the photograph above was the one from which the BBC would have broadcast to the Nation during the bunkers occupancy. It somewhat evocatively still has a single bare bulb hanging from the ceiling.

As a condition of Network Stadium Housing Association developing the site public access to the bunker has to be allowed a couple of days each year. As can be seen from the photograph above the bunker has not been restored in any way and visitors need to wear a hard hat and sensible shoes if they wish to visit. If this doesn’t put you off you can find out the next open day by visiting the Network Stadium Housing Association website by clicking here. R.D.]

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