Cheshire 9 - Nantwich, Hack Green and the not so Secret Bunker

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September 12th 2017
Published: September 12th 2017
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"Are we there yet?"

The sad voice in the back of the car shouted . No Sion we are not. We have only just left home. We have a drive of over two and a half hours to go, a trip to the hairdressers and then we will be there. It's a dismal day . The heating has come on again this morning suggesting that Summer is almost over and Autumn is well on its way. We drive a few hundred yards down the road -

"Are we there yet?" - No have a pistachio and look out of the window . Count sheep . It is going to be a long drive . To distract we talk about our upcoming holiday . We go through the list of things to do. Have I been to have my feet pampered? There is going to be a lot of walking on this holiday. Haircut today, doctors visits undertaken . Only a few more days at work and we will be on the road . Is Suzy ready? She needs a wash . Will she get one ? Highly unlikely now. She is not that dirty and it is going to rain so any cleaning we do will be quickly undone.

"Are we there yet?" No we have only just got to Matlock . We still have to drive to Buxton and then over the Cat and Fiddle into Cheshire . It is going to be long ride at this rate .

So why all the questions? Well today we are going to the Secret Bunker at Hack Green near Nantwich to meet a friend we meet through Travel Blog and Sions best friend Woolly Mammoth . Sion cannot wait . He has much to discuss with Woolly about our holiday - Kent and Ann Boleyn . He is obsessed with chopping heads off things. He wants to talk tunnels, latrines and romans and his upcoming visit to Trier and the roman remains. He insists he is not going to be hungry when we are in Hungary and wants to know all about his friends next holidays to Turkey, to Scotland , Sri Lanka and India . He is getting ideas in his head . Not something new. He always has ideas in his head.

We do like to do something different and luckily the Secret Bunker is fairly close to where Jo is working and it is on our way home. I visited many years ago and had a vague idea where it was. However after almost twenty years it must have moved as it wasn't where I thought it was. Or perhaps that is just my mind playing tricks after all this time .

"Have we got here?" "Where is Woolly ?" "Has he arrived?" So the dulcet tones of the woolly one in the back wafted over the car and we tried to ignore him. Then round the corner arrived Jo with Woolly. Excitement all round. The boys were back - doing what they always do - get their heads together and you cannot prise them apart

We set off around the secret bunker to try to find the entrance. It reminded me of the old Royal Observer Corps HQ at Wrexham where I spent many a Tuesday evening beavering away getting ready for nuclear war which seemed ever so real in the late 1960's. We entered the secret world above ground. No heavy blast door shutting with a loud clang behind us. Into the ticket office area and the canteen. A canteen that would have been frequented by the RAF crew and the civil servants from the Ministry of Defence who manned the bunker. We paid our entrance fee - ours taking longer than Jo - probably due to my request for a silver spy ticket - OAP to you and me . Next stop to keep the boys happy with food . There was a menu on line - promising - there was a menu on the wall . When we got to the counter sadly no hot food just cakes . We sat a while over cakes and coffee just catching up on life at the Plassey where Jo and Zoe work , on plans for the future and talking about life in general . Of course our two furry friends caused a bit of attention seeking and were given the childrens play things to keep them amused .

The bunker is huge. There is no doubt about that. It stretches for a long way both overground and underground Each room you enter is full of display cases. Some filled with paperwork from the Cold War era, others filled with medals and Soviet costumes. There is so much in each case it is hard to work out what each item was used for . The rooms are full of sounds that I remember from my training in the Royal Observer Corps. Huge banks of computers - all flickering and with lights twinkling reminded us just how far computer had developed since these early ones. The data processed in the huge banks could now be completed far quicker on a modern tablet.

We entered the ticker tape rooms. The noise of the machines sounded quite relaxing against the television adverts telling us how to protect ourselves against nuclear fall out. Stay in the house . The posters on the wall showed just what would happen to the house if you stayed in it when a bomb was detonated .

The BBC studios were equipped to provide broadcasts to the nation. The rooms at one stage would have been full of plotters and typists and the switchboard operators who sat in front of banks of exchanges . The phone would come to life as calls came in and calls went out. The bomb blast room was bathed in red light giving a claustrophobic feel to the building . The sound of the bomb warnings echoed off the walls and the all clear sound was chilling. I still felt the hairs on the back of my neck standing up as I was instantly taken back to the world of the Cold War . A world where every week we practiced sending messages about fall out from small underground holes to the centre where the information was plotted on white boards rotated every five minutes . The messages then relayed to the plotters who marked them up mirror imaged on large plastic boards.

We saw the huge water storage systems, the air conditioning , we smelt the smell of a damp underground. We saw the beds and could lie in them. Life went on underground without anyone above knowing much about what was going on.

The visit was a fantastic one . On the one hand it took me back years. I was 15 again . It gave us the opportunity to catch up with our friend Jo and for Sion and Woolly to converse and put the world to right. It was different. How many secret bunkers have you been to? It made us stop, think, shudder and worry about a World War III which could quite easily annihilate us all. We have not learned much in the years since the Cold War ended have we?


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