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Groups search result 10 for "decontamination"

Search Result 10
From: Nick Catford (
Subject: Railway bunkers & WW2 CD centres
Newsgroups: uk.rec.subterranea
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Date: 2001-04-13 16:18:05 PST

With foot and mouth curtailing all ROC Post hunting I decided to stay close
in to London today with to look at a number of WW2 Civil Defence buildings
an and around town. First however having visited the WW2 Southern Railway
regional control centre at Orpington a few weeks ago I decided to take a
look at the two other WW2 railway bunkers covering the Southern Railway's
South West and South Central areas of South London. Both are located in
railway goods yards, one beside Redhill Station and the other beside Woking

REDHILL - The bunker is located at TQ281503 immediately south of the old
Goods Shed at the back of the station car park. There is a rectangular mound
covering the bunker and a single storey building, now housing the AMEC
Estates Managers Office, now stands on top it. One entrance is at the north
end of the mound where modern double wooden doors give access to a stairway
down. The other entrance is on the west side of the mound facing onto the
railway line. Here there is a single wooden door giving access to a stairway
that dog legs down into the bunker. At the southern end of the mound there
is a large metal container and adjacent to this as the ventilation shaft
(similar to Orpington) consisting of a squared conical concrete pillar with
a ventilation pipe on top of it. Both doors are locked and it is unclear if
the bunker is currently used for anything. The area has free public access
as a Tyre shop is located beyond the bunker. One entrance to the bunker can
be seen from passing trains.

WOKING - The bunker is located at TQ009588 at the western end of the eastern
station car park, accessed from Oriental Road. The only visible entrance is
in a mounded bank with two wooden huts on top, these are still used by
railway staff. The entrance consists of a replacement steel door giving
access to a stairway down. There is a concrete slab protruding over the
entrance and resting on a brick pillar giving blast protection (similar to
Orpington). Despite walking right round the mound there is no obvious second
entrance although it could be inside one of the buildings as they appear to
be contemporary with the bunker. There is a concrete pillar along one side
that may have been the ventilation shaft but this is now capped with no
obvious ventilation pipe. The steel door is locked with a strong metal bar
and one room is used by an electricity company. When visited in 1981 some of
the telephone exchange equipment and furniture was still in place. (see
transcript of newspaper article below). The car park and entrance, which is
on the south side of the railway line is sunken and hidden from the line by
other railway hutting. In the bank on the north side of the car park (along
side the railway line) are two air raid shelters, both emergency exits are
visible and one (TQ00885882) can be entered although it is tight.

I will try and arrange access to both the bunkers.

From Woking I took a brief look at a former DERA site on the south side of
Parvis Road, West Byfleet. This is reputed to have a bunker beneath it that
was used during the Gulf War. Although the site is now empty and due for
redevelopment it is still secure with high walls and fencing and it was not
possible to gain access or get any further information. There is a resident
caretaker on site.

The rest of the day was taking up looking at WW2 Civil Defence buildings
around Greater London, none of these have any underground content so if
you're only interested in things underground stop reading here.

the edge of Southfields Playing Fields, on the north side of Southfields
Road, W4, opposite St. Peters Church (TQ208796). It consists of a
rectangular brick building approximately 50' X 25' with an 8' X 10' brick
tower at one end. There are two doorways, one on the south side and one on
the west end. Both are bricked up as are all the windows, typical of this
type of building, just below roof level.

the north side of Lower Morden Lane just east of the junction with Bow Lane.
It is a rectangular brick building approximately 80' X 40' with a narrow
brick extension taking up the full width of the building. This upper level
also has windows. The building has, until recently housed a branch library.

located in the middle of Broomfield Park, beside a tarmacced footpath and
close to a children's play area. (TQ305927) This centre is a rectangular
brick building approximately 50' X 40' with a raised brick tower at one end
(15' X 8'). There is a door on the east end and two doors on the north side.
The building has characteristic windows just below roof level and appears to
be used as a store.

CIVIL DEFENCE CENTRE - LOWER EDMONTON This is a series of three buildings
consisting of a gas decontamination and cleansing centre, 4 bay garage and a
civil defence (ARP) Control Centre. The buildings are located in Churchfield
Recreation Ground on the east side of Great Cambridge Road, A10. (TQ337944)
There are two 100' long brick building parallel to each other. The northern
building is 'L' shaped and was the decontamination centre with a 10' square
brick tower at one end. At the eastern end of this building is a 4 bay civil
defence garage. All the doorways have been blocked up. This and the
decontamination centre now house the Churchfields Play Centre, and the
former control centre houses the Old Tottonians Rugby Club.

CIVIL DEFENCE CENTRE - EDMONTON This is a rectangular two storey brick
building with 6 prefabricated single storey extensions, two at either end of
the long faces forming an 'H' shape and the other two on the ends. There is
short tower on the roof that could hold a tank. There are three gas tight
doors still in place. The building is located in Pymmes Park (TQ337925).

brick building rendered and painted white. It has an 8' X 8' brick tower at
one end and characteristic windows just below roof level. It is located at
the junction of Scotland Green Road North and Lea Valley Road (TQ359960). It
is used by the Enfield Sea Cadets and has been named TS Troutbridge.

CIVIL DEFENCE CENTRE - WALTHAM ABBEY This is a 'T' shaped brick building,
rendered and painted white comprising a gas decontamination centre and
cleansing centre and civil defence (ARP) control centre. The arm of the 'T'
housed the decontamination centre and it has an 8' X 6' brick tower near one
end. It is located at the junction of Saxon Way and Crooked Mile (TL384008).
The decontamination centre is approximately 100' by 25', the other section
of the building being 120' X 25'. Some high level windows remain but new
windows have been added. The building now houses the Waltham Abbey Community

I also took a quick look for a Civil Defence Control Centre in Edmonton
supposedly under the Central Clinic in Plevna Road. This is a modern
building with no evidence of anything underneath so further research is
required her.

Thanks to Keith Ward for tips on some of the sites.


TRANSCRIPT FROM Woking Times Review 17.10.1981

Is there a secret shelter beneath Woking's streets? Richard Darring asked in
a Review article a year ago. He reported on a controversial book by Peter
Laurie entitled Beneath The City Streets in which mention was made of Woking
's Southern Railway Divisional headquarters instituted at the start of the
last war. Peter Laurie stated in his book that all traces of 'Woking's
tunnel" had disappeared, but if he had dug a little further in the right
places he would have found all sorts interesting things about the towns
'battle headquarters'.  Researcher and writer - Peter Bancroft and Review
photographer Andrew Higgins have found the "secret tunnel"and have been to
see it. Here are the facts.

That the clouds of war had been gathering over Europe for some considerable
time before September 1939 is undisputed, and all of the Big Four railway
companies had themselves been very conscious of this fact. The Southern
Railway had taken several positive steps long before the start of the war,
which principally involved a planned decentralisation of the stores
departments and the administrative offices of the company. Their emergency
headquarters away from the London area, which would undoubtedly  be
subjected to bombardment from the air, was to be in a large and imposing
country house at Deepdene near Dorking. Another house at Elmstead Woods in
Kent, and some space in the old locomotive works at Brighton were also taken
and set aside for offices. In addition to this accommodation, there were to
be three divisional headquarters located at Woking, Redhill and Orpington,
each one having its own re-enforced underground chamber for the control
staff. These "Battle Headquarters," as they were sometimes called, were
occupied from the very start of the war. The Woking headquarters was to
control the extensive "London West" area. Woking station itself was the hub
of London West Division Area Number 4, controlling the old South Western
main line from Byfleet Junction down to Winchester Junction, together with
various important connections to other lines and the two branches leaving
the main line at Brookwood, one into the Brookwood Cemetery, and the other
to Bisley Camp and Pirbright (both long since closed and lifted). These
control arrangements continued during and for many years after the war, and
even in its later years the Woking Underground control office boasted some
nine controllers, each with telephone facilities, having direct contact with
all the signal boxes in the various numbered areas. Apparently most of the
controllers were to note the passing times of every train at various points
in their respective areas, in order to establish early or late running and
monitor traffic movements generally. With their special ability to divert
traffic around any incidents, i.e. breakdowns, derailments, engineering
works, etc. These arrangements were presumably very much the same in
wartime, with added interference to traffic from air attacks. A locomotive
control man and a driver's guards control man were also part of the team,
with their own special tasks of co-ordinating provision of motive power and
planning crew duty rosters.

Two revealing pictures of the wartime use of the various underground control
rooms, were given in "The Railway Gazette" issues for 18th October 1940 and
21st March 1941 (Pages 414 and 330 respectively) though at the time their
location was not stated for reasons of security. However, neither picture
appears to be of the Woking office.

Also at Woking, a wireless van was parked at the end of a short siding, near
to the unloading bay at the east end of platform 5. That was one of 14 fixed
radio installations provided during the war, which could be used in the
event of dislocation of the telephone system by enemy action

This system was only used twice during the war, once in May, 1941, and again
in May, 1942, resulting from heavy raids in the London and Exeter areas
respectively, causing damage to telephone lines. The importance of Woking as
a traffic centre may be illustrated by the fact that the station had played
an important part in the final movement by rail, of many troops brought back
from Dunkirk, A number of these troop trains were reversed at the station an
their way to more distant parts, having arrived by way of Redhill from the
Channel Ports

This in itself was a headache because there was no turntable at Woking for
the locomotives. The problem was overcome by sending the engines "running
light" up to the bay platform on the up side at Weybridge, and then running
via the spur line to Addlestone Junction and round again to rejoin the down
main line at Byfleet Junction, to face the right way round for westbound
departure from Woking, Doubtless the controllers worked overtime in  their
underground office during this period. The build up to D Day would also have
required an large amount of troops, munitions and stores train movements,
all carefully planned and monitored by the various control staff. With
permission granted by Mr. Graham Coombs. (BR Public Affairs Department) and
the supervisor of Mr. R H. Gosling (Area Civil Engineer, BR South Western
Division) we visited the Southern Railway Woking underground control office.

As the photographs shows, the shambles and dereliction of the place today
does not do credit to its former strategic and vital service in the dark
days at the war. Indeed our visit seemed quite an anti-climax after so many
great expectations of this strategic place. The main control room is perhaps
10 or 12 feet wide and about 20 feet long with air locks leading off at both
ends up to the surface entrances. The air locks consist of steel doors with
small glass panels and bearing inscriptions that read ' Upon hearing a
purple, red or gas warning close all steel doors when entering or leaving
the shelter. The first door must be
closed before opening the second.'

Parallel to the main office are four smaller rooms, entered through a third
door from within the air lock at the east end of the shelter. The last of
these four rooms
is also connected directly to the main control room at the west end via a
small door. These smaller rooms had contained a telephone exchange, warm air
ventilation plant, electrical control apparatus, and one room is currently
in use by the local Electricity Board as a substation, presumably supplying
the offices above. There were no toilets provided in the shelter and the
walls were apparently just whitewashed.

There is of course, no access to the public, the shelter being on British
Railways private property. Anyone found trespassing is therefore liable to
So Mr. Laurie, I must disappoint readers of your book, in so fur as
exploding the notion that this might be some secret Government shelter,
manned and ready in the event of a nuclear attack. Instead only the
shattered remains of a once bustling wartime railway underground control

Are any other locations mentioned in your book In the same state as this
one? I do not know. Certainly the people of Woking need not rush to this
particular shelter for protection. But has Woking any other ,ore modern
shelters?  Now who was it said that the basement of the new council offices
took a long time to build ? I wonder.

There are three pictures published in the paper, one shows the gas tight
door with the inscription, one shows the main office with desks along both
walls and the third shows some of the racks of electrical (telephone ?)
equipment still in place.

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