|The Cabinet War Rooms|
|The thumbnails below are linked to larger
I appologise for the poor quality of the images below, but the low lighting levels and glass screening which restricted flash photography, inhibited decent photographs, at least with my basic equipment.
The aerial bombardment of cities which originated in the First World War, alerted government planners of the dangers this presented to ordered government. On the eve of the second World War, a suitable secure protected site was sought to locate the war cabinet. The obvious solution of a site remote from London was dismissed as it would appear to the public that their leaders were deserting them.
The site chosen were the humble basement chambers of the Office of Works building which faced onto St. James's Park. This building offered a strong structure and was conveniently situated between Parliament and 10 Downing street. Work began in 1938 on adapting the humble storage areas, ten feet below ground, to house the war cabinet and core of government. Additional steel and concrete reinforcement was added during the war years as the ferocity of the bombardment increased.
Shortly after assuming the office of Prime Minister in May 1940, Winston Churchill visited the new Cabinet war Rooms, to see for himself the preparations that had been made. It was in the underground Cabinet room that he declared 'This is the room from which I will direct the War'. That room looks today just as it did then.
Operational as emergency accommodation for the six year duration of the war, the secret complex consisting of twenty-one rooms, had remained relatively untouched since they were abandoned at the end of war in 1945. Parliament preserved the rooms as an historic site in 1948 and in 1981 Margaret Thatcher decided the site should be made more accessible. The Imperial War Museum arranged the preservation and restoration of the site to its original wartime appearance over the next three years.
The Cabinet War Rooms are located in King Charles Street, opposite St. James's Park, (don't tell a soul !). A pleasant walk from Victoria railway station or adjacent to Wesminster underground station.