Bunker in Dollis Hill used by Sir Winston Churchill is opened to the public
PUBLISHED: 11:15 20 June 2016 | UPDATED: 10:30 23 June 2016
A secret war time bunker in Dollis Hill used by Sir Winston Churchill received visitors for the first of its two annual openings.
The War Cabinets Rooms 2, in Brook Road, used once by the war time prime minister, was built to replace the famous cabinet rooms in Whitehall if it had been bombed.
Known as Churchill’s Bunker it was sold by Brent Council to Network Homes in 1997 with a land transfer condition that it stays open to the public.
Pupils from Torah Temimah Primary School in Parkside, Dollis Hill, and Pardes House Primary in Finchley, were invited to the opening last week where a special Winston Churchill lookalike surprised them.
However, not all residents are happy with the arrangement. Dilwyn Chambers, who lives in Edgware, said: “There’s a legal obligation to open it all year round according to demand but nobody knows about it and they don’t want them knowing about it. It’s not advertised anywhere.
“It’s by far the most important structure in Brent, it’s the last defence of the free world, and it’s only open twice a year. Brent council doesn’t want to annoy the housing association by saying they have got to open it more often.”
Nick Catford, the tour guide, said it would cost up to £500,000 to repair damage to the “historically very important” bunker.
He added: “The agreement between Brent and Network was that the bunker should be made safe and opened to the public on at least two days a year for a period of five years.
“For the last 10 years Network needn’t have opened the bunker at all but they have chosen to continue with the open days at considerable expense.”
A council spokesman said: “When planning permission was granted for this site to be redeveloped for housing in 1997, one of the conditions was that the bunker should be open to the public for at least two days a year.
“This requirement has been met each year since 1997, and the underground bunker has been opened to the public and maintained as agreed.”
A spokeswoman for Network Homes said: “We open The Paddock twice a year for tours. There’s space for a maximum of 25 people per tour. We do not charge for tours.
“The tours are run by volunteers who are members of Subterranea Britannica which is why we are only able to open the bunker twice a year.”
The next tour on September 17 will run from 8.30am – 5pm, every 30 minutes.
Each tour lasts between 45-50 minutes.
From August it will be advertised at networkhomes.org.uk/news/churchills-bunker/.
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