|Brookmans Park Transmitting Station|
Photograph by Ron Kingdon, part of the Images of North Mymms Collection
Broadcasting Service (WTBS) to be activated in the event of a nuclear attack.
The Brookmans Park Transmitting Station, a twin-wave broadcasting facility, was considered to be a crucial part of the Britain's communications strategy at the time.
|Brookmans Park Transmitting Station and George's Wood. Brookmans Park, 1947|
Image with original caption courtesy of Britain From Above
The location of the Brookmans Park "nuclear bunker"
|The Brookmans Park Transmitting Station from the NW|
Image by the North Mymms History Project
Photograph taken from North Mymms footpath 37
The company, Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design, stated on page 24 of the proposal that "the nuclear bunker" on the site "will be retained" and that the facilities, including the "nuclear bunker" would be "improved and expanded into a larger, mixed use area with commercial office space, dwellings and a cafe/local shop". That report is embedded below.
The North Mymms History Project (NMHP) has approached Tibbalds Planning and Urban Design to ask what evidence they have of a "nuclear bunker" at the site.
The current owner of the Brookmans Park Transmitting Station is Arqiva. The NMHP has approached Arqiva asking whether it is possible to visit the site to find out more and to take photographs so that we can update this feature.
|Satellite view of the Brookmans Park Transmitting Station
Created on Map Hub by The North Mymms History Project
Elements © Thunderforest © OpenStreetMap contributors
Regional seats of government
Details of what measures would be taken by the BBC in the event of a nuclear attack were contained in the BBC War Book, a collection of top-secret documents.
The War Book has since been released by the BBC under The Freedom of Information Act.
The book, embedded below, makes no mention of the Brookmans Park Transmitting Station or what would happen at the site if a nuclear war was to happen.
According to the BBC there were "11 protected bunkers" spread across the UK.
These were known as Regional Seats of Government (RGHQs). Some would also have sheltered government ministers and staff. The majority were protected from attack.
A former BBC executive has told the NMHP that the Brookmans Park site was not one of the 11.
One report we have found on Subterranea Britannica suggests the Brookmans Park site did not have protected accommodation "because it was considered to be too close to London to survive any blast".
The BBC headquarters bunker was at the Engineering Training Department at Wood Norton in Worcestershire, where 90 BBC staff would be assembled, including engineers, announcers, 12 news editors and sub-editors, and ‘two nominations from Religious Broadcasting’.
Output would be controlled by the Government. If nuclear war broke out, BBC staff who were chosen to broadcast from the bunkers would be sent a letter which they would be instructed to destroy after reading.
According to an article in the BBC pension magazine Prospero, published in December 2016 (embedded below) staff would be offered transport to their posts, but if they took their own car they would not be able to park it there.
The article, written by former BBC correspondent Paul Reynolds, continues by describing what staff would be told to take.
As for kit, ‘informal clothing only will be necessary’. The letter advised them that they should bring reading material and ‘small recreational items’.
If war loomed even closer, letter number two would be handed over. This said: ‘You have been selected for emergency duty and you will be going to…’ The bunker’s name would be filled in at the time.
Delicately, the letter also said: ‘The length of your stay cannot be foreseen, but it might be for several weeks.’
Paul Reynolds says staff were advised to take clothes, soap and towels for 30 days. The food in the bunkers (free of charge) would be in packs, with five daily menus. These would provide 2,000-2,400 calories per day, with a vitamin supplement. Sleeping would be communal, though suitably segregated.
Broadcast warnings of nuclear attack would have come from the BBC headquarters at Wood Norton. Peter Donaldson, a Radio 4 newsreader with a known and trusted voice, recorded the most recent warning announcement:
‘This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted…’
If you have anything to add to this feature, or just want to add your comments, please use the comment box below or join our North Mymms History Project Facebook group and post there.
More on the Brookmans Park Transmitting Station
- The history of the Brookmans Park Transmitting Station
- The London twin-wave broadcasting station Brookmans Park