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Restoration of bunker offers glimpse of life after nuclear war

Take a trip back in time with a look inside Dundee's Cold War relic.

By STV News

Published 02 Oct 2019.

By Steven McMenemy

Hidden deep beneath a Dundee street lies a building which would have played a vital role in the event of a nuclear war.

Over the past 15 years volunteers have been restoring a bunker abandoned after the Cold War ended, to pay tribute to the men and women who worked there.

It may be an unremarkable structure at the bottom of a quiet cul-de-sac but during the Cold War it was a key location for the United Kingdom.

Members of the Royal Observer Corps were expected to work underground there in the aftermath of a nuclear war.

The control room would have had an essential role to play, passing on information to whatever fragment of government would have remained following any nuclear attack.

Gavin Saxby from charity 28 Group Observed, the volunteers behind the restoration of the bunker, said: "There's about 30 or 40 three person monitoring posts all about this area and in the event of a nuclear war they'd have reported the direction and height of a nuclear burst.

"They'd also have recorded radiation levels; all of that information would have been relayed back to this bunker and displayed on the perspex screens in the control room."

This control room was stood down in the early 1990's and became an empty shell, but over the past few years the volunteers have worked tirelessly to restore it.

For one of the volunteers Steve West, getting involved has brought back a lot of happy family memories.

He said: "My granddad was actually part of the crew here and was also the caretaker on site. I remember being brought down here as a child, having the run of the building so it was nice to come back and be part of it and get the history going again to make the Observer Corps known."

In the event of a nuclear war duty corps staff would have had to live in the bunker for some weeks after the blast and fallout.

The likelihood was they would never see loved ones again.

Mr West said: "I don't think it is something you can actually comprehend until that moment arises.

"A lot of guys we spoke to said 'yes we will turn up and we will do our duty' but it is a huge sacrifice to leave your wife, family kids to the outside world to perish."

Volunteers have worked tirelessly for over a decade to restore the bunker and now want to turn it into a museum but admit they need help cutting through red tape to achieve this.

Mr Saxby, who is the bunker manager, added: "We're really at heart - we're a bunch of engineers - we kind of get things done. Where we need the help is from people who are good at writing things down and getting it down on paper."

The work done so far to restore the bunker gives us an insight into the sights and sounds of a Cold War relic that thankfully was never called into action for real.