Friends of the Maritime Museum

Have a facebook site at: Friends of Lancaster Maritime Museum

Friends meetings are now on Sunday afternoons for the winter period and still open to LES members.

Annual Day Out

Wednesday 14th June 2023

The Hack Green Nuclear Bunker.

The following is a précis of the more detailed description available on the Hack Green Website and this well worth a visit : -.

“ During World War 2 the Hack Green  site, (previously used as a bombing decoy site for the main railway centre at Crewe), was chosen to be a  Radio Detection and Direction Finding (RDF) equipment site (Radar) and  become RAF Hack Green, to protect the land between Birmingham and Liverpool from hostile attack.

Hack green was as one of 21 fixed radar stations in the country and one of only 12 fully equipped with searchlights and fighter aircraft control.

After World War II, a major examination of radar capability showed that our existing radar defence would be unable to cope with the threat posed by fast jet aircraft, let alone nuclear missiles.  Rotor’ was the code name given to the Top Secret plan to replace the Chain Home and Ground Controlled Intercept radar network. The plan involved placing 1620 radar screens into massively constructed bunkers covering the UK.

 Hack Green was a semi-sunk bunker known as a type R6.  RAF Hack Green joined 12 Group protecting Britain against the perceived Soviet threat of both conventional and nuclear war.

 Hack Green could give vital warning of the approach of hostile Russian bombers and enable the RAF to intercept with fighter aircraft or Bloodhound ground- to- air missiles. In accordance with the then held “tripwire theory” that a number of nuclear bombers would always get through to some targets, early warning of impending attack enabled ‘V-Force’ nuclear bombers to become airborne and launch a retaliatory attack.

As a Rotor station, Hack Green had a compliment of 18 officers, 26 NCO’s and 224 corporals and aircraftsmen..

After having served for almost 30 years the site was abandoned and remained derelict until taken over by the Home Office.

 The bunker was then rebuilt as a Regional Government Headquarters, (RGHQs), – one of a network of 17 throughout the UK – designed to enable the government to continue in the aftermath of a major nuclear attack on the UK.

In about 1992, following the end of the Cold War the Home Office abandoned its network of RGHQs and sold many of the sites. The Hack Green Bunker was purchased by a private company and opened to the public in 1998 as a museum with a Cold War theme.

The bunker has a substantial collection of military and Cold War memorabilia, including one of the largest collections of decommissioned nuclear weapons in the world.

 It also houses ballistic missile early warning equipment.

The museum includes information about the function of the bunker during the Cold War and there is a simulator designed to simulate conditions in the bunker during a nuclear attack.

Visitors can watch the BBC film’ The War Game’ produced to inform the public of what would be likely to happen in a nuclear attack on Britain”

The LES visit was made on a glorious hot summer’s day and upon arrival it was a pleasure to descend to the coolness of the various levels of the bunker.  As detailed above there are many exhibits of military equipment that, thankfully, were never used and its later life as a RSG is well covered.

The most striking thought to me was the colossal amounts of money that must have been expended on defence and all the civil works so soon after the Second World War.  The most sobering exhibit was, I thought, the Peter Yates film “The War Game” screened on a loop in one of the rooms. The film was banned for many years (and no wonder!) – It gave the lie to the notion that survival was in any way desirable or possible, even with what were then relatively low- yield nuclear weapons.

As an example of wishful thinking the Government issued a pamphlet to the public called “Protect and Survive” that suggested, amongst other things, taking the doors off in the house and making a shelter under the stairs – good luck with that during a 4 minute warning.

 I am not sure the thought of the last people emerging from the bunker and fighting over an irradiated rat is very appealing.

After a very interesting visit, we than travelled to Nantwich for lunch and had time to look around this attractive Cheshire Town. Nantwich is situated on the banks of the River Weaver and is famous for the medieval timbered buildings dotted around the town. The town was made prosperous by the salt industry and a visit to the Church shows the effects of the salt extraction on the foundations.  Overall a very successful visit enjoyed, I believe, by all.

The trip did however struggle to attract members and several seats were occupied by non-members.

Thanks are due to Chris Baxter for volunteering to drive our Minibus and for his careful driving.  Thanks also to those members whom, for several reasons, could not join us on the day nevertheless did not request refunds and made contributions to LES.  The trip therefore, more or less, broke even

Looking forward to our next visit to an attraction to be advised.

If any members have any suggestions for a venue they would be welcome – please let any committee member have your thoughts.

Previous Outings

2022The Jetty Museum Windermere
2019The Devils Porridge Museum, Eastriggs Near Gretna.
2018Anson Engine Museum Poynton Cheshire.
2017Old Dock Liverpool.
2016City of Leeds and Royal Armouries Museum.
2015Salford Media City.
2014City of Chester and Anderton Boat Lift.
2013City of Liverpool. Cathedrals and Williamson Tunnels.
2012City of Manchester. Museum of Science and Industry.
2011City of York
2010Salford City and Lowry Theatre.
2009City of Newcastle-Sage Music Centre Gateshead and the Seven Bridges over the Tyne.
2008City of Liverpool. Albert Dock.
2007Falkirk Wheel Scotland