Churchill’s secret bunker really was a secret throughout World War Two (1939-1945). There are War Rooms under Whitehall, where Churchill held cabinet meetings and slept but he also had another bunker, 40 ft below ground in sleepy Brook Road, Neasden in north-west London.
The bunker, codenamed Paddock, was an alternative to the Cabinet War Rooms at Whitehall, which would not have survived a direct hit. This bunker was deep enough to be completely bombproof. Paddock was meant to be Churchill’s last refuge if the World War 2 Battle of Britain had been lost. It was designed to accommodate the entire war cabinet and 200 staff.
Paddock was so secret, that Churchill only described it as “near Hampstead” in his memoirs. But he used it just once for a war cabinet meeting because he thought it was too far away from the city and he found it rather damp.
The bunker was sold to Network Stadium Housing Association (then called Network Housing Association) in 1997 and we built social housing on the land above. We installed electricity and pumps, without which the bunker would be knee-high in water, and made it safe. These works cost £15,000. As a housing association our priority is developing good quality homes that people can afford, so it is not possible for us to recreate the bunker as it would have been in Churchill’s day or open the bunker to the public more than twice a year, as required as a condition of the land transfer. But we do recognise, that the bunker is of great historic interest and there is huge demand from local people and visitors from around the world to get a glimpse of this wartime hideaway.
The twice-yearly bunker open days will be advertised here. The next open days are Thursday 9 May 2013 and Saturday 21 September 2013 (during London Open House weekend). For further information and bookings please contact Katy Bajina on 020 8782 4239 or email email@example.com