Seriously – Perplexing?

This afternoon while driving between Manchester and Telford (avoiding very slow moving traffic on the M6) I became lost on the Cheshire Plain – all the while listening to Gardeners Question Time on Radio 4. Could the panel suggest suitable plants for the handlebar basket of my electric bicycle? Really!? One is never completely lost with Radio 4 aboard, never bored either!

Signs for places, towns and villages flashed by, most were unfamiliar to me. A brown place-of-interest sign caught my eye. Secret Bunker. Hack Green Secret Nuclear Bunker. Below are excerpts from declassified files concerning England’s, somewhat worrying, preparations in case of a Nuclear Attack. Read, laugh and cry. There is more on the website.


The flesh of cattle, poultry, sheep, pigs ect will be safe to eat provided the animals are slaughtered before they become sick with radiation sickness.

Nuclear Handbook for Staff Officers (War Office 1963)

For a meal consisting of meat & vegetables about 2cwt of potatoes would need to be peeled for 400 meals. (1 ton for 4000 meals) Allowing for wastage, which varies according to the type of potato and the season, this provides about a 6oz portion per person. It is estimated that the time taken for four people to peel 1 cwt of average quality potatoes is about 1 hour

Metropolitan District Emergency Feeding Plan 1985

Protective Measures.
Suitable clothing for use in a fallout area includes: Well clothed denim overalls. Gumboots or strong leather boots. Strong plastic or fabric gloves to prevent direct ingress of radioactive material into the body. “Scarf” or sweat rags around the neck to stop radioactive dust getting in. If no respirator is available a simple lint or “smog” face mask (a handkerchief over the nose & mouth could be used in an emergency) A closely fitting helmet or hat such as a beret, which will keep radioactive dust out of the hair, since the head is more difficult to de-contaminate than the rest of the body.

Civil Defence Instructors Book HMSO 1960

I’ll be at Telford Priory until the 21st February, then returning to Throssel where hopefully all the snow will have melted and spring will be in evidence.

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4 thoughts on “Seriously – Perplexing?”

  1. Brings back memories of growing up and becoming a young adult in south Florida in the days of the Cold War and especially the Cuban Missile Crisis when President Kennedy stood nose-to-nose with Khrushchev. Soviet nuclear missiles were 90 miles away and aimed right at us. We were told that our only chance of survival was an underground concrete bunker in the backyard with food and water for at least two weeks, but the water table in Florida is too high to permit any sort of underground construction, so the only solution was to build an above-ground bunker, and then cover it with dirt, and a few people actually did that. In my high school classes we were taught how to use portable dosimeters, how to, hopefully, scrub off radioactive dust from canned goods, and how to spot early symptoms of radiation poisoning. The teachers gave us long lectures on the “evils” of communism. Most of our families did not have backyard bunkers, but we did have frequent, heated discussions at home, in school, and at work, about whom we would share our shelter and survival supplies with, and how we would or could bring ourselves to shut out those who might be already contaminated with radiation. It was my first direct experience of the “Lifeboat Philosophy;” and it made me sad.

  2. I remember some years ago while I was nursing, being given a (nuclear war) handbook that read, –

    “In the event of a nuclear strike on Lancaster, all nurses are to report to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and await further instructions.”

    Er, that’s assuming there would have been a Royal Lancaster Infirmary left to report to!
    Lancaster is not a very big town.


  3. All the talk about how the world would end before we had lived out our ‘natural’ lives affected me intensely as a child. I believed all the horror stories, some of which I now know to have been exaggerated for the sake of argument. I think now that the effects of climate change are dramatised in a similar way with no thought of the effect it might have on young children. I remember the Cuban missile crisis because a child at school, whose dad was in the RAF, told me it meant the world would end very soon.

  4. Really! Hack Green? Must go and take a look at the place.

    Back in the 1970’s I had a job in Welsh local government which brought me into contact with a lot of that stuff, not during the seriously confrontational stages of the Cold War but some years afterwards when we were still going through the motions. I even got to go on a couple of courses at the Civil Defence College at Easingwold and spent a week down in a bunker near Bridgend.

    There were more than a few bizarre aspects to all that which I might blog about one day. Maybe the most unreal aspect was a lengthy series of meetings to negotiate with the local library service about handing out information in the event of nuclear attack. Our Chief Librarian clearly expected that the first thing that would happen after an attack on the United Kingdom would be that people would form an orderly queue outside their local library for advice.

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