Tea, cake and Cold War memorabilia. That’s what guests to East Yorkshire can count on after they make it previous Hull so far as the east coast village of Holmpton. Here there’s a discipline that was as soon as the location of a Royal Airforce base, and inside it sits an unassuming trendy bungalow that hides a giant shock – an enormous nuclear bunker now working as a museum and, from this month, a subterranean artwork gallery.
The bunker was as soon as manned by the Royal Observer Corps, who have been educated to observe nuclear bomb detonations and fallout ranges if a nuclear assault ever passed off. “The Nuclear Reporting Cell within the bunker is the last surviving NRC in the UK,” says John Swift, who runs the previous RAF Holmpton bunker museum. “We’re very lucky to have the staff who manned the NRC here as volunteers; every weekend they are present in the bunker to share their story.”
The nuclear bunker opened as a radar station in 1953 and it was nonetheless within the possession of the Ministry of Defence till December 2014. Since then it has been transformed into a completely fledged museum. Visitors descend a flight of stairs, then comply with a 100m-access tunnel to succeed in 8cm-thick blast doorways made from tank metal. Within, there are operations rooms, dormitories and communications areas to discover, in addition to a 1980s video games room full with pool desk, jukebox and arcade machines.
The artwork gallery is new for 2018 and can show artwork targeted on army and battle within the former pc corridor, which has remained empty because the bunker gasped its final breath as a radar station in 1974. The gallery opened mid-March and can proceed with rotating artists till November when the bunker closes for winter. “We’re already arranging exhibitors for 2019. The feedback has been really positive so far, so we’re hoping the art becomes a permanent feature,” says Swift.
Back upstairs, a former guard room is now a pseudo cafe, the place cold and warm drinks and do-it-yourself muffins are bought. Proceeds are donated to Help for Heroes, the UK charity for armed forces and army veterans.
By Lorna Parkes