*FX:* checks nervously over shoulder for Spooks before
I was out for a ride through the countryside outside London at the
weekend. Nice weather, not too many cars on the road, and new sticky
tyres on my motorbike meant I was having a wonderful time. Then on the
way home I came to a small town in Essex called Ongar. Just outside the
town was a road sign, which looked fairly normal.
According to the sign, I could go straight ahead to Abridge, Romford
and London, I could turn right for The Rodings and Chigwell, or left
for the Secret Nuclear Bunker.
It wasn't until I'd passed the sign that I suddenly realised what I'd
read on it ... Secret Nuclear Bunker? This was no handwritten sign by
the way, this was a proper, official Department of Transport road sign.
Unfortunately I had somewhere else to be later on that day so couldn't
follow it up, but I'm definitely going back at some point to find out.
If the black helicopters don't get me I'll be sure to let you know
Update December 18, 2000: well I've been back to the bunker, and
it's exactly what it claims to be. Except for the secret part, that is.
It even has its own website at www.thebunker.net which is very
comprehensive, but to summarise it used to be a genuine bunker to be
used by the UK military and government as a secure
in the event of a
nuclear strike against this country.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the welcoming of
ex-Warsaw Pact countries into Europe the threat was perceived to be
less and in 1993 the bunker was declassified: before that even
residents living nearby had no idea the place existed. It's now
partly a minor tourist attraction but primarily aiming to sell itself
as a hyper-secure data storage location: obvious parallels can be
drawn with The Crypt from Neal Stephenson's novel
down to the Secret Nuclear Bunker being run by geeks who've populated
it with UNIX boxes.