Wiltshire’s Secret Underground City
Burlington: The 35 acre, secret subterranean Cold War City that lies 100 feet beneath Corsham.
Welcome to Wiltshire’s Secret Underground City… the 35 acre subterranean Cold War City that lies 100 feet beneath Corsham.
Built in the late 50s this massive city complex was designed to safely house up to 4,000 central Government personnel in the event of a nuclear strike.
In a former Bath stone quarry the city, code named Burlington, was to be the site of the main Emergency Government War Headquarters – the hub of the Country’s alternative seat of power outside London.
Over 60 miles of Roads
The Telephone Exchange
Over a kilometre in length, and boasting over 60 miles of roads, the underground site was designed not only to accommodate the than Conservative Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, but the entire Cabinet Office, civil servants and an army of domestic support staff.
The site was so top secret that many of the civil servants, who had been allocated a desk at Burlington, had no knowledge of it.
Blast proof and completely self-sufficient the secret underground site could accommodate up to 4,000 people, in complete isolation from the outside world, for up to three months.
Although never actually used, the New York grid-style city of roads and avenues was equipped with all the facilities needed to survive. From underground hospitals, canteens, kitchens and laundries to storerooms of supplies, accommodation areas and offices.
An Underground Lake
An underground lake and treatment plant could provide all the drinking water needed whilst 12 huge tanks could store the fuel required to keep the four massive generators, in the underground power station, running for up to three months. And unlike most urban cities, above ground, the air within the complex could also be kept at a constant humidity and heated to around 20 degrees.
A ward in the hospital
The city was also equipped with the second largest telephone exchange in Britain, a BBC studio from which the PM could address the nation and an internal Lamson Tube system that could relay messages, using compressed air, throughout the complex.
For 30 years Burlington was in operation but at the end of the Cold War, in 1991, the still un-used city complex was finally taken over by the MOD and kept on standby in case of future nuclear threats to the UK.
But last December, with the underground reservoir drained, emptied of fuel and supplies and with a skeleton staff of just four, the site was finally decommissioned