Under the Corsham Cotswalds approximately eighty feet below ground beneath RAF Corsham, lies the UK’s largest underground bunker and for sixty years one of the best kept secrets in modern MOD history. Burlington bunker. Assembled as an emergency relocation site for the British government if the threat of nuclear war ever became reality. The bunker boasts some impressive ‘sections’ from a BBC broadcasting suite to a Hospital all accessible via 10 miles of ‘road’.
Adjacent to Burlington is over 30km of tunnels and passageways belonging to Box Freestone Quarry, part of which taken over by the MOD and turned in to an air inlet. For years, explorers like myself would marvel at the MOD area of Box Mine and the mysterious ‘red door’ that sits at the end of the passage.
Exploring Burlington Bunker
Roll forward to 2010, and a set of certain circumstances which saw an opportunity to go beyond the red door and venture inside…
As we walked closer to the Burlington complex the rough rock edging became smoother as tunnels and passages turned in to roads complete with signs and road markings. Immediately we heard voices and machinery. At the end of a long roadway we could see several workmen upon motorised electrical carts. We waited for them to move on and walked around the corner, in to Burlington.
We didn’t have long to explore the site and without a decent map we had to guess where the best bits would be. After poking around in a few interesting store rooms we happened across one of the main features of the Burlington bunker; The canteen.
Plates & cutlery all laid out make this area look like it’s ready to be used at the drop of a hat, or as if previous inhabitants just upped and left.
The truth is, the bunker was never used. This mock setup was more than likely arranged for the hand-full of public and press tours held at the bunker shortly after it was decommissioned in 2004.
As we walked through the canteen and took in the incredible, brand-new coffee makers we made our way into the Kitchens where thousands of pounds worth of utensils, cookers & mixers sit having never warmed up so much as a tin of beans.
Behind the canteen is the laundry area. Industrial sized washing machines and tumble dryers alongside banks of ironing boards – labelled up with stickers advising on asbestos.
Among the exploring world, the main “attraction” in Burlington is no doubt the Telephone Exchange. Immaculately preserved and the biggest exchange of its type in the world, it takes your breath away.
Time was running out and we needed to get out before we were locked in for the night! In hindsight, it would have been a lot better if we had been! I’d have got a lot more photos and seen much more of the bunker, that’s for sure!
On our way out we decided to see what would happen if we just walked around, bold as brass. We must have walked past seven or eight workers, none of them even batting an eyelid, one even acknowledged us with an, “alright” as we made our way to the exit.
I don’t think this will be the last of Burlington, but what exactly were the workmen doing down there? Asbestos removal was definitely being carried out. Perhaps it’ll just turn in to a glorified storage unit?… Until next time, Burlington.
Thanks to Kinger for using some of his photos