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York Cold War Bunker, York

#6 of 43 in Historic Sites in York
Historic Site · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
The York Cold War Bunker is a two-storey, semi-subterranean, Cold War bunker in the Holgate area of York, England, built in 1961 to monitor nuclear explosions and fallout in Yorkshire, in the event of nuclear war.

One of about 30 around the United Kingdom, the building was used throughout its operational existence as the regional headquarters and control centre for the Royal Observer Corps's No. 20 Group YORK between 1961 and 1991. It has become an English Heritage Scheduled Monument and was opened in 2006 by English Heritage as a tourist attraction.

During its Cold War operational period, the building could have supported 60 local volunteer members of the Royal Observer Corps, inclusive of a ten-man United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation scientific warning team. They would have collated details of nuclear bombs exploded within the UK and tracked radioactive fallout across the Yorkshire region, warning the public of its approach. This example of an ROC control building is the only one that is preserved in its operational condition. The others stand derelict or have either been demolished or sold. A few have been converted to other uses, like No. 16 Group Shrewsbury that is now a veterinary clinic, another is a recording studio, two are satellite and communications control centres, and one is a solicitor's file storage facility.

The fully restored building contains air filtration and generating plant, kitchen and canteen, dormitories, radio and landline communication equipment and specialist 1980s computers and a fully equipped operations room with vertical illuminated perspex maps.

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York Cold War Bunker reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
795 reviews
  • Really wanted to see the York Cold War Bunker as I am interested in military history only it is closed at the moment since Covid. Will visit another time while in York.  more »
  • We visited here last year with friends, a great time was had and the staff were very knowedgable and passionate about their work  more »
  • Visited 26/08/19, as an ex ROC member I was very impressed at the tour, the guide was clearly very knowledgeable and professional but at the same time didn't go overboard with too many detailed facts which can often leave visitors slightly overwhelmed. I had been back to our old monitoring post at Broadway (Worcestershire) on Saturday (which is fully restored) so was nice to see a HQ fully kitted out. Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
  • Fascinating insight into one aspect of the Cold War, and the work of the Royal Observer Corps volunteers. Lots of retro technology, and an excellent guide to give us the human side of life in the bunker. We all left in a somewhat sombre mood, as was only fitting. Highly recommended.

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