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History – The Corsham Tunnels

What is the origin of the tunnels that run under Coronas and Nekton (the village I live In)? How has the use of the tunnels changed overtime? How well known are the tunnels? The Coronas Tunnels A brief overview The Coronas tunnels are a network of concealed passageways located deep underground in the small town of Coronas. Over the years the tunnels have been used for several different purposes. At first the tunnels were a series of quarries but later they were connected and adapted to serve storage uses required by the military.

Later in the twentieth century the tunnels were adapted again to act as a safe house for the government in the event of a nuclear war. What is the origin of the tunnels and how have they developed? The tunnels that run under both Nekton and Coronas date back to 1840 when they began life as a quarry, but over time they have undergone major development, at one stage housing a fully developed underground city. Despite the fact that the quarry was around in the sass, to provide bath stone to help the development of the historic city of Bath, the tunnels themselves were formed some years later under the control of the MOD.

So It was the early nineteen hundreds before the tunnels first appeared in their current form. Although the MOD has been responsible for most of the developments that occurred to the tunnels during their history, other local developments also had a big engineer who built the Box Tunnel, which opened in 1841 after fourteen years of construction. This was an important development which helped realism the industrial potential of the area. The improved railway links helped the quarry develop as it allowed the stone that the quarry produced to be transported around the country quickly and easily.

The opening of Box Tunnel therefore started the ‘Golden Age’ of quarrying at Coronas, which took place from 1850 to 1910. Despite starting life as simple quarries, the network of tunnels have had a varied history that has reflected events above ground. As the world has changed so have the tunnels. This is particularly true because the tunnels were a fall back point for the military, always ready to serve whatever purpose they were required to. How has the use of the tunnels changed over time?

The tunnels have changed significantly over the last century as a result of the efferent needs of the MOD and the Government, which had to react to events in the world. Two events were very important in shaping the use and development of the tunnels – the Second World War and the Cold War. World War II The start of the Second World War signaled the most extensive phase of development, with a number of the quarries that form part of the tunnels being adapted to help the war effort.

Tunnel Quarry In the sass the War Office began investigating underground sites for storing ammunition, and attention was drawn to Tunnel Quarry. It was in many ways ideal tit 44 acres of storage space directly connected to the GAR main branch line that entered a side tunnel at the east portal of Box Tunnel. Today, its 10 storage districts separated by concrete blast walls comprising 3-acres each, an underground railway and platform, conveyor belts for moving ammunition, huge ventilation fans, generators and barracks all remain.

The west end of Tunnel Quarry was also used as a Signals Centre which continued in use for communications into the 21st Century. It began operation in 1943, and at this time it was one of three main signals centre in operation but stopped being operational in 1965. Browns Quarry Browns Quarry developed as a small independent quarry at the north-west of Tunnel Quarry, and in 1940 the Royal Air Force used it as the base for air defense of the western region.

By 1950 Browns Quarry was selected to be the new Southern Sector Operations Centre, and the quarry continued in operation into the Cold War forming the WHQL of the Defense Communications Network. Spring Quarry The advent of aerial warfare during the First World War brought with it the increasing demand for the mass production of fighters and bombers of standard sign. By 1942, it was decided to locate the Bristol Airplane Company’s development works and the manufacturing of Centaurs engines below-ground at Spring Quarry, as well as the manufacture of undercarriages, gun barrels and turrets.

Production stopped in 1945, but evidence of the works survives today, particularly the lifts and escalators used to transport the workers, and the large The Cold War – Burlington, Britain’s Underground City Once the 2nd world war had subsided, the government feared breaches of trust with the Soviet Union could cause a global crisis and bring on a nuclear war. The Coronas Tunnels were to play a key role in guarding the UK against the changing threat.

In the late sass the government started drawing up plans for an emergency war headquarters outside of London, and the northern part of Spring Quarry made the perfect secure location for the site. In 1956 the government decided to convert Coronas in to the main Emergency Government War Headquarters (codenamed Burlington), this would have been the alternative seat of power in the event of a nuclear strike on the I-J, housing the Prime Minister, Cabinet Office, local and cantonal government agencies, intelligence and security advisors and domestic support staff.

Conversion work started on a forty acre section of Spring Quarry towards the end of the ass and by 1961 the Burlington Bunker (or Site 3) was put in to operation. Burlington Bunker adjoins the Mood’s Tunnel Quarry, originally part of the Central Ammunitions Depot, this quarry has its own branch line at the eastern end of Box Tunnel on the main GAR line from London and an underground station, this meant that the government could quickly evacuate from Whitehall and been taken straight o the secure bunker facility.

The Prime minister and key cabinet members would have been flown to the site by helicopter. The bunker was designed to safely house up to 4000 government ministers and civil servants in a totally self-sufficient, blast proof, radiation proof bunker 1 km long and 200 meters across, 100 feet below Coronas in the event of an attack affecting London.

Burlington had all the facilities the inhabitants would need to survive over a sustained period of time, there was a medical centre with examination rooms, wards and a dental surgery, a bakery, a under and the bunker had two kitchens and serving areas one at the top area 7 and one at bottom area 12 and a small but comprehensive collection of books holding a database on which it was hoped the devastated country could rebuild, this included maps, scientific and technical manuals and acts of Parliament. There was even a reservoir.

The bunker contained accommodation for the Prime Minister and his family, and travel around the bunker was by battery driven vehicles which were stored and charge in their own underground vehicle depot. The bunker’s storeroom had racks of teal shelves with everything from butter-pat makers to glass ashtrays; from toilet brushes to teapots. The bunker was also packed with tinned food, office equipment and enough fuel to run the large generators for 3 months. The bunker is so large that Avenue. The Government once safely inside Burlington could run the country as normal from the Prime Minister’s map room.

The bunker’s primary role was to act as a hub and maintain communications within the UK and with the outside world, there was a huge telephone exchange to keep them in touch with various parts of the country. The giant wooden switchboards are from the sass, but the directories were updated as recently as 1989. In the early sass the Emergency Government War Headquarters was given an overhaul and a large section of the bunker was separated from the rest and converted in to a Nuclear Reporting cell which employed between 50 and 100 staff.

The bunker’s facilities were kept ticking over until the early ass and the 50-strong staff was reduced to a skeleton crew of Just four. By 1991 the government decided not to spend EYE million needed to upgrade the bunker, and it was wound down. It was slowly emptied of fuel and food supplies and the reservoir was drained. The bunker did however remain part of the MOD estate and on the care and maintains books costing the country on average IEEE,OHO a year to maintain and was still an integral part of government’s war plans, for this reason the site remained secret.

The site was kept on stand-by, ready to put back in to action in the event that the government required it due to a threat to the I-J. Recent developments – the situation today Burlington has remained a decoy site for the new relocation bunker up until December 2004 at which time it was declassified, meaning its existence was no longer kept a secret. The future of Burlington is now uncertain, the MOD have already started offering parts of Spring Quarry for development to private investors and it looks like the Bunker will go the same way. English Heritage have expressed an interest in preserving part of the site for historic interest.

TOP SECRET Key facts about Burlington Here are some key facts about the Auk’s biggest underground government bunker… Purpose: The British government’s alternative seat of power in the event of a nuclear strike on the I-J. Conceived: 1956 Completed: 1961 Decommissioned: 1991 Declassified: 2004 Aliases: Hawthorn Central Government War Headquarters, Stockpile, Subterfuge, Turnstile, Burlington as Site 3. Districts: 22 Depth: 60-100 feet below ground. Dimensions: 1 km long and 200 meters across. Area: 35 acres. Transport: A fleet of battery powered buggies navigated 10 miles of tunnel.

Inhabitants: 4000 government ministers and civil servants including the Prime Minister, Cabinet Office, local and national government agencies, intelligence and security advisors and domestic support staff. Facilities: Infirmary, bakery, laundry, two argue kitchens and serving areas, BBC broadcasting studio, telephone exchange, store rooms, office space, living accommodation, maintenance areas and workshops and an As the tunnels were a big part of the government’s back up planning if there was another (possibly nuclear) war, their role and location was kept secret from the public for many years.

The reason for this was that if the information was released it would create a very serious security issue for the government as other hostile countries may discover the location of Burlington. The importance of keeping the information lassie was underlined by the fact that people whose houses sit on top of the network itself did not know.

Perhaps even more surprising is that some of the workers who had been selected to go to Burlington in the event of an attack did not know that Burlington existed – they would only have been told about it on the day they were taken there. But there was a very small group of people who knew about the tunnels and the role they were to play in the event of an emergency. These people would either be highly ranked government officials or else they would have some involvement with the Ministry of Defense (MOD).

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