Saturday, September 17, 2005

Open House Weekend - Paddock

And so onto the next venue. Simon, the IT guy at work had arranged to come over this afternoon. Despite not being able to find my flat and a mad dash up through to Cricklewood, we made it with seconds to spare. This was a special venue, one that had been booked weeks ago when the Open House catalogue first came out. This was a trip into the underworld, otherwise known as Paddock. Paddock, was Churchill's secret Cabinet War Rooms, the one that was so secret that even the King had no ide of it's whereabouts. The main Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall is now a tourist attraction, done up to please the crowds of tourists. This one in Dollis Hill is pretty much as he left it in the 1940's, after deciding it wasn't up to his standards due to the amount of damp. Built beneath a housing estate, which at the time was the GPO Research centre, we descended a number of steps from a small brick built building at the side of the road, into the complex of damp and dark rooms below. This tour was arranged by Subterannea Britannica, who with a couple of very knowledgeable memebers, gave us an interesting and insightful tour of this secret bunker. We visited the air conditioning plant and the generators, splashed through muddly puddles and avoided the various stalagtites that hung from the ceilings. We saw the map room, withthe three windows that the various forces would peek through to see what was planned and we visited the Cabinet Room itself, with it's own separate aircon designed specifically for a certain persons cigars.
This was one of the best little tours I have been on, mostly due to the fact it was like being let into a secret that only a few have seen. Tours here are only organised on 2 days a year. Click the pic as ususal for all the other pics in this series.

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