Underground Naval HQ & Communications Centre, Portland, Dorset

A lazy Sunday evening with nothing better to do saw me recruit a new explorer, my Dad! I’d wanted to revisit the Underground Communications Bunker on Portland for quite a while now and when I mentioned it to my Dad he was very keen given his history of working in the (now long gone) HMS Osprey Dockyard.

For years he’d heard rumours of a bunker which stretched deep under the hill above the port but had never seen or believed it. I was happy to put the rumours to rest for him!

The Underground Communications Bunker was completed in 1941 and was a sub-command to Fort Southwick in Portsmouth.

Original layout of the Underground Communications Bunker (top)
And the modern alterations
by Nick Catford

There are four entrance tunnels to the bunker (two pairs) which join after a few yards in to two main tunnels. Both lead to the main operations area, a series of rooms in a ring formation. The internal loop of rooms has seen a few modern changes over the years with breeze block dividers put up to create more rooms and WC’s. The changes are seen in the diagrams opposite, drawn up by Nick Catford of Subterranea Britannica.

The Underground Communications Bunker was never used and the tunnels are in pretty good condition considering their age. There’s some standing water in places but nothing too serious. A lot more of the ventilation ducts have rusted through and fallen from the ceiling since the last time I visited the site in 2008 and a few of the tunnel linings have peeled away slightly but nothing else has changed dramatically apart from the make-shift storage yard almost completely covering one of the tunnel entrances outside.

Getting to the Underground Communications Bunker is quite a mission. After all it is inside an active port. A long walk, a climb, evading CCTV and regular patrols, this kind of explore really puts your stealth skills to the test.

I didn’t really get the photos I set out to capture but they’re good enough for now. It’s only taken me six years to finally put a report together for this site!

NOTICE: New bylaws introduced in 2018 at Portland Port are in effect and people are being convicted of, “entering or leaving a harbour premises other than by a designated entrance or exit, other than in an emergency”.

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Important, noteworthy & interesting comments are highlighted below

  1. Daniela says:

    Hello, I want to base my (BA HONS) interior design project on this site. I am getting confused where the exact location is. Portland, Dorset is in UK but as soon as I put in Communications Centre bunker it puts me into USA so I was wondering where it exactly is. USA or UK?

    Thank you.

    1. Alex Blackmore says:

      Hi Daniela,

      The bunker is located in Dorset UK however the Navy and Portland Harbour security have fenced off the area and it is now almost impossible to get in because there are new cctv posts and maned posts to get past. However I’m going to try and find more sites on Portland today. :-)

  2. Laila says:

    A few friends and I recently located the ‘Forbidden city’ after a long trek through plenty of brambles but it was certainly worth the pain! I’ve grown up on the Island and always known about it but never been able to find it until a few days ago.. While we were there a lot of the buildings are much harder to get through as the floors have rotted and started to cave in much more. We were in the first section where the ‘shower rooms’ are and the floor almost fell through entirely as we were climbing out! Whilst I want to find the tunnels myself, I’m curious as to whether it’s in that building because I recall my friends saying that they were going to climb down something while I was checking out another room- it’d be a shame if it is because it’s impossible to get into now but any guidance would be useful and save the long walk for nothing!
    Thanks, Laila

    1. The Urban Explorer says:

      Hi Laila,

      The underground communications HQ isn’t located in the DISTEX site (forbidden city). And I know the building you’re talking about – the floor is extremely fragile and I’m surprised you guys got in!

  3. LED Eddie says:

    Looks of a very similar construction to this place.


    1. It would have been near identical. All tunnel structures built around the early part of the 20th century used the same methods

  4. Antje Rook says:

    Hi, where exactly is the Underground Communications Bunker and where is the entrance. Will I get access though the forbidden city or in that area? I’ve done the forbidden city and will try to do the Breakwater Fort, but this sounds interesting too.

    I love your site, I really do, it inspired me to start exploring as well and I love it!!

    1. Hi Antje,

      The bunker is inside Portland Port & yeah, you can get to it via ‘Forbidden City’ but that’s all I’m going to disclose.

      In my eyes, exploring isn’t about asking for a location and being given it on a plate. If you’re truly inspired, do your research, planning etc yourself and you’ll find the actual explore is 100% better.

      A simple search on Google will give you results which have maps and a general location of the bunker. It’s not hard to find, but accessing a live port has its own complications and risks that you’ll have to take in to consideration yourself.

      1. Antje Rook says:

        Found everything I need already, think I’ve even stood in front of the entrance without recognising it. Will go back soon! But thanks for your reply anyway!!

        1. No problem at all! Easy wasn’t it!

      2. Joseph Collard says:

        Hi there, I wouldn’t bother trying to visit here now, we tried it August 2015 and they’ve really stepped up security, was 100 yards from entrance when we got caught by the police and escorted away, loads of CCTV too.

        1. The Urban Explorer says:

          There’s always been CCTV and port police here. I suspect you were just unlucky.

      3. ian says:

        Hi urban explorer, I don’t think so. To be an urban explorer you have to share interesting locations and ways in with other urban explorers that is the point of it.

        Even if people do post more info about how to get to the places it is taken down as I did some years back how to get in to the rotor tunnels. You do not have the right to call yourself an urban explorer, shame on you.

        1. The Urban Explorer says:

          Ian, I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick here. I do often share locations & help others find places, but I don’t do it in public. What good would it be to publish access details where landowners, security & police can also read it? Think about it!

          The Portland ROTOR tunnels are now under private tenancy and have been for several years, currently inside/under someone’s home; how do you think they’d feel if their home and how to access it was being discussed on a public forum? Again, think about it! Being informed and being responsible & considerate with that information go hand in hand.

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