Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker, Kelvedon Hatch

The Secret Nuclear Bunker at Kelvedon Hatch, in the Borough of Brentwood in the English county of Essex, is a large underground bunker maintained during the cold war as a potential regional government headquarters. Since being decommissioned in 1992, the bunker has been open to the public as a tourist attraction, with a museum focusing on its cold war history.

Building and intended purpose

The bunker was first built as an air defence station (an 'R4' Sector Operations Control or SOC) as part of the RAF ROTOR air defence project. Upon the demise of the ROTOR SOC the remaining Nuclear Reporting Cell and UKWMO elements were incorporated into a Home office 'Regional Seat of Government' or RSG. The bunker was able to hold various numbers (in the hundreds) of military and civilian personnel, the numbers changing over the years as the role of the building changed from SOC to RSG and in its later years; 'Regional Government Head Quarters' or RGHQ. In the event of a nuclear strike the RSG / RGHQs etc. would be tasked to organise the survival of the population and continue government operations. It was built to provide nuclear protection for nearby MOD workers. The area they chose had to be off the main road behind fields and forests to prevent civilians from finding it.


The Kelvedon Hatch bunker was built in 1952–53 as part of ROTOR. ROTOR was a programme to improve and harden Britain's air defence network. The bunker was a hardened ( three level 'R4') Sector Operations Center (SOC) for RAF Fighter Command. It was to provide command and control of the London Sector of Fighter Command. During the 1960s, 70s, 80s and early into the 1990s the UK government (Home Office) maintained the bunker as an [emergency] regional government defence site. Eventually in the early 1990s when nuclear threat was seen as diminished, the bunker was sold back to the family who had owned the land in the 1950s. It is now a Cold War museum and retains many of its original ROTOR and RSG/RGHQ features.

Inside the bunker

Kelvedon Hatch emergency broadcast towerThe bunker is built 125 feet (38 m) underground and the entrance is through an ordinary looking 'bungalow' (a standard ROTOR 'Guard House') set amongst trees. The inside of the bungalow leads to a 100 yards (91 m) tunnel entering the R4 at its lowest floor (of three). Above are two more floors, the 'hill' which covers it, and a radio mast.

The bunker was able to accommodate some hundreds of personnel (the numbers changing as function and form varied over the years) and could sustain them for up to three months. The bunker has air conditioning and heating (using the original ROTOR AC-Plant but replacing the original coolant with a more 'modern' type [c.1980s]), its own water supply (mains water and its own deep bore hole) and generators, and was equipped with many types of radio equipment, protected (EMP) telecommunications, teleprinter (MSX) networks and various military systems (MOULD and CONRAD etc.) etc.

Modern times

By 1992 the bunker was no longer required, so was decommissioned and sold back to the original owners. It has now been renovated and made into a museum and tourist attraction; many locals appreciate the irony of the many brown tourist signs, clearly directing people to the "Secret Nuclear Bunker" in the area. The BBC TV show Top Gear featured the signs.

The bunker was used as a "Killer's Location" for The Murder Game. Both the living quarters and the operational zone were set up for the "Killer's Game" in the finale.

In 2010 the Independent British post apocalyptic/horror film S.N.U.B! was filmed in the bunker.

PLEASE NOTE: from november 1st to february 28th the bunker is only open thursday to sunday, 10am-4pm.
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Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker Reviews
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  • We visited this place following a shooting experience at High ropes next door. We were surprised to see that the canteen and gift shop are fully stocked with all manner of things and that payment is v...  more »
  • WARNING - Cash only! With the warning out of the way this is a briliant view of what the goverment would do when the rest of the population were hiding unders doors piled with sandbags. First build wh...  more »
  • Quirky but absolutely brilliant place. Worth a visit but leave any preconceptions of a traditional museam at the door. Self guided/honest boxes but a fascinating collection of cold War memorabilia, well laid out and a good place to spend a couple of hours.
  • Such an amazing place. I came here with my friends for a stag do. 2 hours of high ropes followed by 2 hours of the mud run. We were well looked after, food was part of the days events. I got very muddy and had a great time. Would highly recommend for a day of adventure and getting out in that fresh air I keep hearing people talk about.
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Duration: 1​h 30​min