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Secret Underground Cities Hardcover – Nov 1998

4.1 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd; First Edition edition (Nov. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0850525853
  • ISBN-13: 978-0850525854
  • Product Dimensions: 24.2 x 16.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 245,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Author

A guide to the secret govt sites described in this book
‘SECRET UNDERGROUND CITIES’ is the history of the series of vast underground arsenals, factories and control bunkers built by the British government during the Second World War, and of the new uses found for many of these subterranean cities as nuclear shelters and command centres during the period of post-war, cold-war paranoia.

Many of these underground sites were concentrated in the Corsham area of North Wiltshire, where hundreds of acres of disused stone mines, buried over 100’ below the peaceful rural landscape, were converted at the cost of tens of millions of pounds, into huge and awesome bomb-proof cities.

After an introduction explaining the inter-war military, economic and political factors that influenced the government’s policy on underground protection, the book goes on describe in detail the construction and operation of all the major sites including: (1) CENTRAL AMMUNITION DEPOT CORSHAM (Tunnel Quarry, Monkton Farleigh Quarry, and the Ridge/Eastlays underground complex)

(2) The two-million square foot SPRING QUARRY underground aircraft engine factory at Corsham, and the other smaller but similar sites at DRAKELOW, WARREN ROW, WESTWOOD and DUDLEY

(3) The sinister and secret underground repositories built to house the contents of the National Gallery at MONOD, in the bleak mountains to the North of Ffestiniog, and the deep stone quarry at WESTWOOD in Wiltshire that housed the greatest treasures of the V&A and the British Museum.

(4) The underground headquarters built in BROWNS QUARRY (later known as RAF RUDLOE MANOR) to house the headquarters of No.10 Group, Fighter Command. This later became the hub of the Western sector of the ‘Rotor’ radar system, and later still became of pivotal importance in the government’s system of nuclear war headquarters.

(5) Amongst the other WW2 sites covered are the RAF storage depots at FAULD, HARPUR HILL and CHILMARK as well as the Admiralty and MoS depots at COPENACRE, MONKS PARK, HAYES WOOD (Limpley Stoke) etc.

The final section of the book describes in some detail how, in the 1960’s, the underground factories at Drakelow and Warren Row were converted into Regional Seats of Government for use in event of nuclear war. It also describes how Spring Quarry at Corsham became the National Government War Headquarters, (the fabled city of Burlington), from where the government would launch any retaliatory nuclear attack, and which would become the home of the War Cabinet and the Chiefs of Staff Committee, together with some 5,000 Civil Servants.


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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I have to admit I have more than a passing interest in the book's subject matter; I visited the vast underground installations in Wiltshire when I was in the military. The site of an underground railway station was quite impressive. The author gives us the history of the tunnels and some maps, although they are not particularly detailed. More recent photos would have been interesting. Worth buying, especialy if you live in the area and wondered what on earth (or under it) was going on under the rolling hills outside Bath.
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Format: Paperback
This gives a good,detailed history of how these places were planned and constructed.The maps and diagrams help in appreciating the enormous scale of these working depots and the problems that had to be overcome.Although really interesting,it would be more so if there were a few anecdotes and tales from those who worked down below.If,like me(I was an Ammunition Examiner in the R.A.O.C.),you were stationed at C.A.D.Corsham doing your National Service, this book will awaken long-forgotten memories and make you aware of being part of a unique bit of the country's history.We were sometimes referred to as the "Mole Men"(because in winter we went down the shaft at 7a.m.and up again around 5p.m. and didn't see much daylight!We really enjoyed the summer because we often went onto Salisbury Plain doing demolitions-blowing up unstable or surplus munitions-great fun!).A lot of the work was pretty boring and tiring because of the articial lighting.If you got an unexpected break you thought nothing of kipping on top of a stack of high explosive shells! I worked at Monkton Farleigh with its long galleries most of the time but remember being amazed at the sheer scale of the Corsham depot when I went below.The photographs can only hint at this.My family have also found it of interest,so I recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
A comprehensive history of Britain's underground military / industrial infrastructure of WW2, with the mass of detailed historical fact pierced by the occassional shaft of dry humour. Very readable. This book put straight many of my previous misconceptions about the infamous 'Corsham Complex' and revealed new sites in the Midlands and Wales about which I was previously unaware.
A little more on the underground RAF bomb-depots would perhaps have been welcome, along with details of the 'sinister' mustard gas factory at Rhydymwn, which, tantalyzingly, gets just a passing mention.
Overall though, a gem squeezed into 270 pages.
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Format: Paperback
A superb book, but hard to come by now. (Just out of print, I think). If you can'y find a copy I would suggest 'Second World War Secret Bunkers' by the same author... basically a larger format, fully illustrated update of 'Secret Underground Cities'.
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Format: Paperback
Secret Underground Cities: an Account of Some of Britain's Subterranean Defence, Factory and Storage Sites in the Second World War
Excellent book, full of interesting information about these WW2 ammo stores. Plenty of diagrams and photos, but could have done with some more detailed maps of where the sites are and a chapter on what the sites are like today. Well worth buying, though.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great book detailing the underground going ons around the Bath area.
The book takes you from pre World War II. Through the war years and up to quite recently.
The book includes many maps of the underground tunnel systems along with photos during their development and usage.
If you are interested in underground defence establishments. Then this is an absolute must have book for you.
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Format: Hardcover
The great spaces under Wiltshire in the old Bath stone mines are fascinating, and well worth the rare opportunities that exist to visit them. Monkton Farleigh was once open as a museum, but sadly no more. Having spent time working in one, this book covers some very familiar, and much unfamiliar territory for me. Admittedly, the spaces are not quite cities, but pretty substantial towns at least.

The history is interesting, the detail provided very satisfactory and the thought that such works would be simply unaffordable nowadays is quite telling.

Mr McCamley has done a fine job here, which should be interesting to all 20th century military historians, civil engineers and many others.
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