This bomb-proof record storage room was originally part of a railway line, known as the Clifton Extension Railway, which closed in 1922 to make way for the construction of a new road.
The 64 metre tunnel, which is the shorter of two tunnels left redundant after the closure of the railway, was converted into a records store some time around 1940. Important documents belonging to various departments of Bristol City Council and the South West Region were stored here. Due to the obvious need for some level of secrecy, there is little concrete information on the history of the structure. According to newspaper clippings found by other urban explorers, it was in use until at least the 1970s, and could well have been use up until the end of the cold war.
Skirting off the main road, through some woodland and a gap in some fencing, the exterior of this site was strewn with rubbish- discarded mattresses and tall piles of rubble. From the outside the arched concrete structure looked apocalyptic, with ivy wrapping the bars in the bricked-up windows.
We ducked under the corrugated awning that clung haphazardly over the doorway, and hopped from rock to rock, tiptoeing above the murky water that flooded the floor. Once around the corner of the entrance, we were greeted by a long dank corridor, with rooms off to the right hand side.
The first room contained rusting ventilation equipment and a small pile of cases, which once would have been ornate. As is often the case, graffiti was splattered over the walls, adding colour to the otherwise dingy space.
Other than a small toilet, the rest of the rooms were carbon copies of each other, with metal ladders and flooring separated the curved spaces into two floors, and the remains of racking that would once have held documents. The remnants of labels of the various departments whose documents were stored here could be seen on the large iron blast doors of each of the chambers, in some cases denoting different sections across the two floors.
Throughout the gloomy flooded tunnel, fixtures included light switches and bulbs, racking and various switches and controls. The Cold War Records Bunker was a captivating explore, intensified by the allure of its mysterious history, though knowing so little about its past is a frustration as well as a fascination.
Last Updated on 15 October 2023 by Michael