Drakelow Tunnels, Staffordshire - Sep 2009

Derelict Places

Help Support Derelict Places:

adders0121

Active member
Joined
May 29, 2009
Messages
30
Reaction score
3
Location
Birmingham
The extensive Drakelow underground complex was originally constructed during world war two as a shadow factory for the Rover car company.( Rover were at this time manufacturing engines for the Bristol aircraft Company ). It was to serve as a feeder plant supplying components to Rover's two main shadow factories at Acocks Green and Solihull, to supply spare parts and also to act as a back-up facility enabling continuity of production if either of the main shadow factories was damaged by enemy action. The tunnels have a total length of 3.5 mi (5.6 km) to 4 mi (6.4 km), covering 250,000 sq ft 200 ft beneath a sandstone ridge in Kingsford Country Park near the village of Kinver, Staffordshire.

A rough timeline of its' history;

1940's = Shadow factory producing plane and tank engines.
1950's = Used by the Ministry of Supply for storage.
1960's = Converted to Regional Seat of Government, Region 9 (RSG9)
1980's = Home Office spent a reputed two million pounds on refurbishing and upgrading around 25 to 30% of the original area to provide accommodation for a new Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ) this incorporatted many areas of the 1960's RSG.
1990's = The Drakelow site was decommissioned and sold to private owners in 1993.

Unfortunately the tour only covers less than quarter of the site, but the owners started stripping out any machinery and metal left on site for scrap last year, so the quality of things to see has deteriorated. Due to some roof collapses you can't venture in to some of the older parts of the factory, but with Paul as our tour guide I was more than happy to stay with him. That guy knows ALOT.

1940's games room, 1980's canteen.

1.jpg


1980's kitchen, including mechanical apple corer + peeler on the left there. You know, because there'll be loads of apples during nuclear fallout.

2.jpg


Attack warning system.

3.jpg


1 of the 2 generators which would have powered the bunker.

4.jpg


5.jpg


6.jpg


7.jpg


First avenue, part of th factory complex. These giant tunnel spaces would have had the machinery and equipment needed to produce engines for the war effort.

8.jpg


Part of the sealed off area towards the other factory tunnels. The entrance was bricked up, but Airsofters had broken through the wall.

9.jpg


Side office.

10.jpg


It almost looks like it's out of a Bond film.

11.jpg


Some relics of machinery are still in situ, although their future is uncertain too.

12.jpg


13.jpg


14.jpg


The factory dining room and canteen.

15.jpg


One of the original tanoy speakers. The speakers were used more for playing music to the workers, lifting the moral of working underground.

16.jpg


17.jpg


Original communications unit from Shropshire County Council, it used public BT network to communicate to ROC posts and other headquarters. If the power supplying the BT network went down then TA radio frequencies were used to carry messages between posts.

18.jpg


One of the control consoles in the BBC studio.

19.jpg


Broadcast BBC studio.

20.jpg


Apart from the toilets, the doctors surgery and operating theatre is the only room which has maintained the same use throughout each conversion of the facility.

21.jpg


In front of the women's dormitory, which was later used as a concert room for workers during lunch breaks. Former staff testimonies state the working conditions in Drakelow to be the best they'd ever experienced.

22.jpg


A wooden door near the entrance shows the natural takeover since the owners stopped maintaining the site. The dehumidifiers were turned off to save money, so the damp is slowly destroying everything.

23.jpg


The 60,000 liter water tank on the left is piped in to the Severn Trent mains, and was the primary drinking water source for the bunker. The 30,000 liter tank at the rear of the room was supplied by a bore hole which tunnels 50 foot below the bunker, taking water from the water table currently sitting in sandstone. This water is said to be better than the fresh water off the mains, and if the primary tank ran out during fallout the bore hole water could be redirected to fill the tank.

24.jpg


25.jpg


The entrance to the bunker is protected by 3 heavy blast doors.

26.jpg


My photos don't do the site justice, and the extensive history which is documented in Paul Stokes's book "Drakelow Unearthed" (http://www.stokes277.freeserve.co.uk/pages/du3.html) is the place you want to be looking. It's a crying shame that the facility has been left to decay like it has, luckily there are good people in the local community and preservation groups working to secure its' future, but for the time being the Trust has stopped planning public tours.

Many thanks to Paul Stokes and everyone else involved in the tour, was a great evening out.

Further reading:

[ame]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drakelow_Tunnels[/ame]
http://www.stokes277.freeserve.co.uk/pages/drakelow.html
http://www.drakelow.info/
 

night crawler

Super Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
Joined
Jan 25, 2009
Messages
4,001
Reaction score
1,942
Location
North Berkshire.
A really interesting report that and great photo's. The work building the tunnels must have taken some doing. :)
 

crickleymal

Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Joined
May 27, 2008
Messages
324
Reaction score
130
Location
Gloucester
You're lucky you were allowed to take photographs. When I went there with the Forest Caving Club a year or two back we were expressly forbidden to take pictures. Something to do with the owners not wanting the world to see they were trashing the place I suspect.
 

ThenewMendoza

Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2008
Messages
654
Reaction score
150
Location
Everywhere..
You're lucky you were allowed to take photographs. When I went there with the Forest Caving Club a year or two back we were expressly forbidden to take pictures. Something to do with the owners not wanting the world to see they were trashing the place I suspect.

Yer, we had that problem last year. The owners were stripping out the air-conditioning ducts if my memory seves me correctly.

Good report.

M :)
 

adders0121

Active member
Joined
May 29, 2009
Messages
30
Reaction score
3
Location
Birmingham
It's looking to be the last tour, and whereas the tour organisers were told there was to be no photography, the Airsofters who have rented it out have been filming and taking photos of themselves and the site, as well as causing a lot of damage. This has caused a more lax attitude towards photography whilst on the tour.
 

UrbanX

Moderate Moderator
Joined
Apr 2, 2007
Messages
7,496
Reaction score
8,046
Location
Cambridge
Great report, cheers for sharing. I've always wanted to get down there but have been to lazy to keep on top of when the tours are!
 

Mid diesel

Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Mar 23, 2009
Messages
110
Reaction score
22
Location
Worcestershire
we live about 3 miles from here --- there is a lot of local controversy due to plans (dormant or otherwise) to convert part of this site into a rehab centre for drug addicts.

there used to be lots of tours of the place and local schools were invited to do project work there.

after the gyp that they have been receiving, the developers have taken their ball home with them!

there are some interesting surface remains from the original part of the site too.
 

sleepless

Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2009
Messages
18
Reaction score
12
Location
Worcestershire / West Mids
Brilliant report! I went on one of the tours about 4 years ago & was gutted that they were very much against photography.
You're right about the Airsofters though, a quick YouTube search brought up all the vids.
 

Sectionate

Veteran Member
Veteran Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2008
Messages
179
Reaction score
94
Why do I reckon the music that would have been played through that tannoy would have been lift music? :lol:
 

Latest posts

Top