I started seeing road signs for Scotland’s Secret Bunker a few years ago now. They start appearing just after the Forth road bridge crossing as you head north. At first this did draw a wry smile to my face. After all a sign revealing the location of something supposed to be secret is wrong by definition.
But then one day for whatever reason I Googled it. An intriguing story then started to emerge. The bunker was built in the 1950s, at a time when the Cold War was beginning to frighten politicians and the major powers were beginning to stock pile an arsenal of nuclear weapons. If there had ever been a nuclear war, a select group of individuals, including I assume, some of the politicians responsible for starting the conflict would rush to the bunker.
After a surprisingly long drive (which the signs at the Forth Bridge give no indication of) you arrive at an innocuous looking farmhouse sitting in the middle of a wind swept field near Anstruther. Under the farmhouse a little staircase takes you to a 150 yard long tunnel that slopes down into the bowels of the earth ending with a couple of huge metal blast doors.
This is real science fiction stuff. Beyond the blast doors are two storeys of living accommodation, telecommunications equipment, radar monitoring devices and air and water purification plants. All this is protected by ten feet of solid concrete strengthened by tungsten bars.
My first thought was how did they build it without anyone knowing? It’s like the villains in James Bond films that build impossibly large high tech bases hidden in volcanoes or under coral reefs. My second was that the technology, whilst obviously cutting edge in the 1970s and 1980s did look a little like a cheap 1970s Doctor Who set.
But as you explore this underground hideaway you slowly begin to realise what it was really all about. And when you sit in the cinema and watch the“Protect and Survive” public information films a feeling of dread takes hold. Those films, which fortunately were never broadcast, showed people like you and I how to turn their houses into nuclear fall out shelters. But as if a few doors propped up against a wall and covered with sand bags would have helped protect you from a force that would have flattened the house in an instant.
Scotland’s Secret Bunker is not, therefore, a fun day out. But it is a thought provoking reminder of a different time when the world was closer than it as ever been to mutually assured destruction. There is no roller coaster rush of excitement here, but it does leave similar sinking feeling in the stomach.