Perfect for a pandemic: ‘Eerie’ Cold War bunker in Cornwall that was built 14ft underground to monitor for enemy aircraft goes on sale for £25,000 after sitting empty since 1991

  • The former Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post, near St Agnes, Cornwall, was built in 1961
  • 15ft long, 7.3ft wide, and 8ft high, it is one of over 1,500 posts built around Britain’s coasts during 1960s-90s
  • Site was used in Cold War to keep track of aircraft and potential nuclear threats, said auctioneer Adam Cook
  • Has an ‘old bunk bed’ and toilet ‘I don’t think you’d fancy using but certainly gives you atmosphere’, he said

An underground bunker built during the Cold War has been put on sale with a guide price of £25,000.

The former Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post near St Agnes, Cornwall, was built in 1961 and is accessed via a 14ft ladder.

Its dimensions are a claustrophobic 15ft long (4.57m), 7.3ft wide (2.25m) and approximately 8ft in height (2.4m).

The site – one of more than 1,500 ROC posts built around Britain’s coasts between the 1960s and 90s – was manned by volunteers and consists of an access shaft, a chemical toilet and a monitoring room. 

It was used in the Cold War to keep track of aircraft and any potential nuclear threats, said auctioneer Adam Cook, who describes being in the subterranean chamber as ‘a little bit eerie’.

An underground bunker built during the Cold War has been put on sale with a guide price of £25,000. The former Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post near St Agnes, Cornwall, was built in 1961 and is accessed via a 14ft ladder. (Above, an illustration of how it would have looked in its prime)

Above, the cantilevered entrance to the bunker. The site – one of more than 1,500 ROC posts built around Britain’s coasts between the 1960s and 90s – was manned by volunteers and consists of an access shaft, a chemical toilet and a monitoring room. It was used in the Cold War to keep track of aircraft and any potential nuclear threats, said auctioneer Adam Cook

Mr Cook said there was still a sense of what it used to be with an ‘old bunk bed’ and a toilet ‘which I don’t think you’d fancy using but it certainly gives you the atmosphere’

The bunker, which is being auctioned online as part of a triangular piece of land on February 18, was first opened in 1961 and closed in 1991 and is accessed down a ‘rustic vehicular track’, according to the online advert

The bunker, which is being auctioned online as part of a triangular piece of land on February 18, was first opened in 1961 and closed in 1991 and is accessed down a ‘rustic vehicular track’, according to the online advert.

Mr Cook said it is a former Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post ‘but people love calling it a nuclear bunker’. 

He described the reinforced concrete chamber as ‘a little bit eerie when you’re there on your own’.

‘I’m glad I’ve been down there…[to have] half a chance of explaining it to customers.’

Mr Cook said it is a former Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post ‘but people love calling it a nuclear bunker’. He described the reinforced concrete chamber as ‘a little bit eerie when you’re there on your own’

Sellers have suggested a variety of uses for the unusual property, subject to planning permission from Cornwall Council. Above, an illustration of how the monitoring posts would have been kitted out

He said there was still a sense of what it used to be with an ‘old bunk bed’ and a toilet ‘which I don’t think you’d fancy using but it certainly gives you the atmosphere’.

Sellers have suggested a variety of uses for the unusual property, subject to planning permission from Cornwall Council. 

Mr Cook said it is ‘difficult to pigeon-hole it onto any one kind of purchaser’, adding that the buyer could be anyone from a history enthusiast to a landowner.

‘All kinds could be interested and we’re already getting lots of calls about it.’

What was the role of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) and its monitoring posts during the Cold War? 

The Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was a civil defence organisation intended for the visual detection, identification, tracking and reporting of aircraft over Great Britain. 

The Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Posts are underground structures all over the United Kingdom, constructed as a result of the Corps’ nuclear reporting role and operated by volunteers during the Cold War, until 1991.

The 29 hidden nuclear bunkers, built in 1960, were designed to withstand an atomic blast and monitor the aftermath of such an attack. 

According to official ROC documentation, a team of three would be expected to live underground in the event of a ‘nuclear incident’, providing reports on the levels of radioactivity in the area. 

The Royal Observer Corps was a civil defence organisation intended for the visual detection, identification, tracking and reporting of aircraft over Great Britain. (Above, a decommissioned ROC monitoring post in the East Midlands in 2003)

In their prime, 12 of the 29 ROC HQs had fully underground bunkers with dormitories, a canteen, communications, plant, control and generator rooms, toilets, air filtering and a decontamination room.

The rest had a surface bunker, with walls made of metre-thick reinforced concrete which could withstand what the military called a ‘near miss’: a two-megaton bomb falling eight miles away.

Along with hundreds of tiny underground monitoring posts big enough for just three people, they would have plotted nuclear fallout and new blasts, sending their findings through secure phone lines to civil servants in 11 subterranean regional outposts.

Almost half of the 29 ROC headquarters have been demolished since closing down. 

The HQs were part of a larger, complex network which also included 11 regional seats of government, two of which have been restored, and hundreds of tiny monitoring posts.

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