Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 4°C

min temp: -2°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Video: Nuclear bunker under Ipswich police station shows off its secrets

09:46 24 June 2014

Paul Geater gets a glimpse inside the Ipswich Nuclear Bunker with David Ellesmere.

Paul Geater gets a glimpse inside the Ipswich Nuclear Bunker with David Ellesmere.

If the balloon – or rather the mushroom cloud – had gone up during the 1970s or 1980s, this is where the last people alive in Ipswich could be watching the devastation.

Who would have been in the bunker?

If Britain had come under nuclear attack in the 1970s or 1980s about 20 people would have ended up in the bunker under the police station and Crown Court.

The top official would have been then Suffolk County Council chief executive Clifford Smith, pictured, who would have taken on the role of the county’s Emergency Controller.

Mr Smith still lives in Ipswich, and remembers the training that emergency staff were given to prepare for the possibility of nuclear war.

He said: “We were sent to the civil defence training centre at Easingwold where we played out certain scenarios. It was not something we liked to think about.”

There were designated officials from many different bodies who had places reserved in the bunker.

“The police, fire and hospitals had designated people who had also been to Easingwold for training. Then there were members of the Red Cross and volunteer Raynet radio operators,” he said.

They realised that the bunker in Ipswich would not offer a great deal of protection – unlike bunkers in Essex for the regional officials which were much larger and better protected.

The emergency centre was not only for use in a nuclear war. It saw actual use in a small number of real emergencies over the year.

The last time it was used was in 1987 in the wake of the hurricane.

There is now an emergency centre at the police headquarters at Martlesham – but that is above ground as the threat of a nuclear attack has reduced and there is an acceptance that it is unlikely anyone would survive a nuclear attack.

Mr Smith said: “The most important role it had was in maintaining contact with people across the county through Raynet – communications have improved significantly since then.”

But they probably wouldn’t have been around for long after a nuclear attack because the town’s bunker under the police station and former Crown Court would only have offered very limited protection.

The bunker has entrances from both the police station and the court, in case one was blocked in the blast, but it is only about 12 feet below street level.

And it is accessed through apparently normal doors – there is no sign of the thick lead-lined doors that feature in films or TV dramas about a nuclear conflict.

We visited the bunker with Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere, the borough took over the building at the end of last month after the police moved a short distance to their new station in Museum Street.

The bunker itself has a number of rooms, which all had different uses during the day-to-day operation of the police station.

However at times of civil emergency it could be a control centre for the whole of Suffolk – and still has maps on the wall showing the river system and details of the road and rail network across East Anglia.

The bunker includes several rooms, including a small kitchen, toilets, and plant rooms. It is not clear what was in the plant room, but it seems likely to have included an independent generator.

There was a stock of iodine tablets available which would be taken to stave off the worst effects of radiation sickness.

However Mr Ellesmere doubted whether those in the bunker would have a long-term future.

He said: “I remember the TV drama Threads from the 1980s which dealt with the effects of a nuclear attack on the city of Sheffield.

“There was one scene about a month after the attack when the army reached the bunker that had been the nerve centre for the city.

“They found it was intact, but everyone inside was dead from radiation poisoning – I’m sure that is what would have happened here.

“There were smaller bunkers in the countryside, and all they were for was for someone to send details of what had happened there – there was no expectation they would survive. I suspect it was the same here.”

Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Bute House in Edinburgh after meeting Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. ... Prime Minister visit to Scotland ... 15-07-2016 ... Edinburgh ... UK ... Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire. Unique Reference No. 28086983 ... Picture date: Friday July 15, 2016. See PA story POLITICS Conservatives. Photo credit should read: Andrew Milligan /PA Wire

A west Suffolk doctor has invited the Prime Minister Theresa May to spend a day at his surgery in a bid to highlight the pressures facing doctors.

A120 at Marks Farm junction in Braintree. Photo: Pagepix Ltd

Five potential routes for a new dualled A120 between Braintree and Marks Tey are being revealed today.

The newest animal at the zoo is the Coati, a member of the racoon family

A raft of exotic animals have made a home at Jimmy’s Farm since it was awarded a zoo licence last year – and the venue plans to home even more in the future.

Woman admits money laundering charge

A teenager has admitted a money laundering charge after £1,600 of someone else’s money was put into her bank account.

Traffic on the A14. Stock image

Motorists could be set for delays on the A14 this morning after a heavy goods vehicle broke down blocking one of the lanes near Seven Hills.

Delays in Norwich Road, Ipswich. Pic: Paul Geater.

Rush hour commuters face a week of delays in the Norwich Road area of Ipswich after a sewer collapsed.

Paper Mill Lane in the Bramford area.

Campaigners for the welfare of horses in Paper Mill Lane in Bramford have launched an online fundraising page to help with the rehabilitation and re-homing of horses seized last week.

Most read

Great Days Out

cover

Click here to view
the Great Days Out
supplement

View

Most commented

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Streetlife

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

MyDate24 MyPhotos24