It may not be the first thing visitors to Fife think of doing, but you should make every effort to come and see this extraordinary underground nerve centre where plans were put in place to keep Scotland functioning, should there be a nuclear attack.
Just a 10-minute drive from Crail, a quiet lane leads through the Fife countryside and a barbed-wire fence to what looks just like an ordinary farmhouse, but was in fact, the guardhouse that would have protected the command centre of the Scottish government had it become necessary. Today, it’s the visitor centre welcoming people into the bunker.
So how did this come about? Well, initially after the end of WWII the British government decided to build a string of early warning radar stations along the east coast of Britain, with those at most risk being built underground. Fife has a Royal Navy dockyard at Rosyth and at the time also had an RAF base at Leuchars, and so consequently it was decided to build this underground complex at Troywood. It was such a well-kept secret that apparently even the locals didn’t know it was here.
A 150 metre tunnel leads from the Guardhouse down into the bunker, which is on two levels, the lowest being 30 metres (almost 100ft) underground. As the threat of a nuclear attack increased then the bunker needed to adapt, and in the early 1970s it was refurbished to accommodate its new role, which it did until 1993.
Some 300 personnel were employed here and there are 42 rooms that can be accessed (some still can’t be for security reasons). Obviously, I can’t describe them all here but they include everything that would help the country to survive after a nuclear attack.
The pictures below show a Dormitory, Telephone Exchange, Emergency Services Control Room and a BBC Studio.
There was, of course, all the facilities needed to keep the bunker going such as the Mess Hall, which is now a visitors’ café
The room where the Radar operators monitored any potential threat would undoubtedly have been one of the most important of all, and it sends a shudder down my spine to think that a 4-minute warning was all we had (have) in order to deal with a nuclear attack.
The Minister of State for Scotland was responsible for taking the appropriate action if the worst-case scenario happened, and he had his own office/bedroom next to the Nuclear Command Control Centre.
The Cold War thankfully finished some time ago now, and on 1st April 1994 the Bunker was opened up to the public. It may not have been on your radar beforehand, but Scotland’s Secret Bunker really shouldn’t be a secret anymore. Don’t miss it.