Revealed: The secrets hidden inside Jersey’s Cold War bunker
WITH thick barbed-wire clad walls, a BBC studio and a blast door, its existence remains unknown to many Islanders...
But there will be a chance next month to take a peek inside the Island’s Civil Emergency Centre bunker – one of a few shelters secretly set up by the States during the Cold War to protect a small number of volunteers from the perils of a nuclear attack.
Everyone else, including the Lieutenant-Governor and the Bailiff, would have been told to stay indoors.
But those inside the German-built fortification would have been able to activate a network of 17 emergency sirens stationed around Jersey, liaise with authorities across Europe – including a secret underground Home Office base in the UK – and announce news of impending danger to the potentially doomed public over the radio.
A telephone link with Guernsey, a radio link to the French defence centre at Rennes, an air-filtration system and food rations were also in place.
Paul Patterson, a scientific adviser trained extensively by the Home Office to man the bunker, said that during the talks he would be able to reveal information he had been forced to keep secret until 2018.
And he added that there were still some things that he was not able to reveal today.
‘The tours are not going to be heavy sessions. It will all just be factual.
‘We are just going to explain to people why things were done the way they were, the effects of nuclear fallout and the effect it would have on Jersey and the training we had to protect the public the best we could,’ he said.
‘Some people may go in and think it is a bit Dad’s Army and that we used very primitive methods with primitive equipment but I think it is probably still used today.
‘If there was a nuclear-electromagnetic pulse it would completely ionise all circuit boards and knock out modern telephony, televisions – it would all go kaput.’
Despite the threat of nuclear war subsiding, the proximity of a number of France’s atomic energy facilities kept the bunker open until 2007, when the team of volunteers trained to occupy it was disbanded.
Today, the Springfield-based Civil Emergency Centre lies dormant, with several Geiger counters, dosimeters, hand-cranked sirens, gas masks, radiation suits and Home Office nuclear warning cassettes all gathering dust.
And next month, those who worked in the bunker will show members of the public around the facility during ten tours.
Anyone wishing to visit the centre must book in advance by visiting bookit.je/events and clicking ‘Cold War Bunker Tours’.
The tours, which are being organised by Jersey Heritage, cost £5 per person or £3 for Jersey Heritage members, patrons and benefactors. Any children attending must be aged 12 or over.