Back in the early 1970's I was a Cadet Leader of the St. John Ambulance Brigade and as an active Cadet I was invited to join another group called 'Casualties Union', a group trained to provide realistic 'Casualties' for training, competition and testing events.
I along with two of my younger Corporals were told to meet up at 7.30pm on a Wednesday night with some older St John Ambulance and Red Cross members in a car park situated near to the police station at the top of the Broadway in Bexleyheath..
We arrived early and waited in the rough dusty car park which was partly surrounded by large old billboards till all the group had arrived. As there were no buildings we were expecting to be led on to another place for our meeting, we had been totally oblivious to the metal bars that surrounded a metal panel at the rear of the car park. Only when the group leader arrived with a set of large keys did this panel reveal a small narrow set of concrete steps which led down below the ground. Unlocking the heavy metal blast door we were led into a small corridor and all sworn to secrecy about what we would see.
If you had seen this panel, you would have expected it to be something to do with sewers or the metal door being a panel to an underground box and maybe access to electrical or telephone equipment, you definitely would not think it led to a large underground complex never mind a self-contained Nuclear control bunker.
Behind the thick 'Blast Doors' which formed an airlock, a decontamination corridor led through with rooms on either side. It had a kitchen, toilets, electrical plant room (Generator etc), Offices. Two larger rooms to the right, one with a large semi-circular table facing a large map wall and a very annoying constantly bleeping nuclear alert speaker set high on the wall. It was this room we used for the majority of our theory training sessions as it was suitably equipped to use a projector.
The other large room we used for the more practical training, being almost empty apart from stacks of chairs and a medical examination table. An escape hatch was built into the far wall in the corner. Other rooms were locked and not accessible to us, but from what little we could see through the misty glass were stocked with archive files and communications equipment. one room appeared to be full of plants, whether this was some form of hydroponics, used to produce oxygen and remove nitrogen from the air or just someone growing garden plants we couldn't say, for all we knew it could have been a cannabis factory, not that we knew what Cannabis even looked like!.
Photographs of these once 'Secret' bunkers in operational condition are rare, but this was the second smaller room we used for practical lessons. Notice the escape hatch in the corner.
Where the escape hatch emerged we never found out. there was nothing else visible in the dusty un-surfaced car park above unless it was buried or hidden. One of our instructors worked in or at least had something to do with the bunker, (exactly what though we were not privileged or perhaps cleared to have been disclosed), hence us being allowed to access and use it, without saying anything definite he 'hinted' that in an unacessible part behind the locked doorways that led off the main corridor, had further access tunnels to other buildings in the town, one being the Bus Garage and another the old Cinema building (Not the main cinema) further down the Broadway that had been disused for many years and I believe was later made into a small Tesco supermarket.
The area marked in red was the original unmade car park area, the bunker was located inside where the dark roofed square in the bottom left corner is now located. where it meets the large Marriott Hotel.
Although in the early 70's the hidden entrance panel covering the steps down was originally in the open in the confines of a public car park, The car park itself has now gone and Bexley Council have since built a new large complex of council offices on this land. Part of the offices and the new Marriott Hotel sits above the underground bunker. The bunker still exists and now has a covered entrance hidden within the confines of the council buildings.
By John Smith posted July 20, 2016