Earlier this week, I got the chance to visit Paddock, a World War 2 bunker located near Dollis Hill and Neasden in northwest London. Paddock was a secret bunker, and Winston Churchill and the Cabinet met here for meetings. The underground bunker was left as it was to go into decay, and when its location was revealed to the public in the early 2000s or late 1990s, it was explored and left. Today, it suffers from water and mould damage due to flooding; the area above the bunker is now occupied by a housing estate, and the building of that housing estate damaged the bunker somewhat in that it allowed water to drip in and form formations on the ceiling. However, the bunker has concrete walls that are five meters thick, and it was meant to survive a direct bomb hit. No bombs hit it during the war, and the enemy probably was not aware of it or its location.
The bunker is only opened two days a year (May and September), with permission by the housing estate to conduct tours. It was free to do, and I signed up as I was interested in seeing the bunker. (I visited the Westminster Cabinet War Rooms over ten years ago now, but Paddock seems more 'real' as it has been unaltered.) I showed up for the tour and was given a hard-hat, and we descended the flights of stairs into a damp corridor.
Paddock war rooms corridor
The kitchen was just on the right from where we entered, and it contained a sink and some cabinets, and you could see the piping here and throughout the bunker. This regulated the air through the bunker. In one room, we saw the generator and another we saw where the air was pumped through the series of ventilation along the ceilings. All of the equipment was left as it was.
Generators and ventilation
Filter and switch
In the above picture, there's a light switch and a filter. In the event of poison gas on the surface above, the air ducting would snap shut so air from outside could not get inside and poison everyone working in the bunker.
Air ventilation equipment
There are two floors in the bunker. After exploring part of the upper floor, we descended a narrow spiral staircase to the lower floor. This was even damper than the floor above. The lower floor contained the meeting rooms, a BBC newsroom, and the map room.
A wet lower corridor
We were shown the power generator room with the equipment still intact and rusty.
We were shown the map room, where there are still cabinets standing and rusting away. Panels on the wall probably held up the maps, and members of the navy and army and air force would have viewed the map wall from windows in other rooms. One of the guides pointed out that the lighting in this room was flourescent and extremely expensive for this time; the lights were also angled toward the walls where the maps would be hung.
We were then shown the meeting room where Churchill sat and met with his colleagues. Outside this room is a BBC broadcasting room. This room is really decayed, so we did not go inside. After seeing this, we climbed the stairs to the upper floor.
BBC Broadcasting room
On the floor above, we saw the switchboard room with its large switchboard paneling. On the back of the switchboard are the various boxes to route the telephone calls to. One of these was labeled "War Cabinet Rooms".
Cabels and boxes lined the walls as well as a sign. The sign reads "Floor 28", but there are only two floors.
Paddock is also famous for the development of Colossus, the first programmable computer that was used to break codes and Enigma during the second world war. The bunker was used primarily as a research facility, and it has certainly been an important part of history.