History

Britain’s nuclear bunker secrets exposed in Google 360° tour

By Kitty Knowles 8 November 2017
Summary

Explore a Cold War hideout in this cool Google experience.

Maps line the cream walls, ready for officials to plot nuclear bomb attacks.

Charts for logging bomb grid references and details of altitude, power, and detonation times are reassuringly empty.

York’s underground Cold War bunker is a stark reminder of the nuclear warfare risks Britain faced just decades ago.

When it was built in 1961, the top secret nerve centre was only accessed by members of Britain’s civil defence, and top scientific advisors from the UK Home Office.

Now, you’re invited to step inside.

Enter the York Cold War bunker

Formally known as ‘The Group Headquarters of Royal Observer Corps Branch 20’, the York Cold War bunker was first opened to the public in 2006.

Now Google has partnered with British charity English Heritage to open it up to the world.

Its striking interiors have been captured on Google Street View so you can explore the sunken HQ in 360° from the comfort of your home; you can move around two levels of the sunken safehouse, and even zoom in on the bunkbeds where military officials would have slept.

In addition to the virtual tour, Google has created a fascinating slideshow explaining the bunker’s history called Preparing For Nuclear War 1961-1991

Who wouldn’t want to nose around?

You can explore London's iconic Abbey Road music studios too.

Google your local history

York’s virtual bunker is one of many historic sites you can now tour as part of Google’s new English Heritage partnership (others include Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, and Kenwood House, London).

“Thanks to Google Arts & Culture’s technology, we’ve been able to bring people closer to our historic masterpieces than ever before, open up our storehouses to a global audience, and showcase hitherto unseen artefacts,” said Matt Thompson, head of collections at English Heritage.

The new historal experiences exist in addition to Google’s vast library of 360° Street View experiences – with more than 3,000 museums, galleries and historical destinations captured online for all to see.

You can tour The British Museum and the São Paulo Museum of Art – even the Egyptian pyramids.

And today more than half a million British students have already been on virtual reality field trips through the company’s Google Expeditions, where they’ve met vikings, and explored the underwater ecosystems around the Galapagos Islands.

If you thought that ‘Googling’ something was the best way to learn about history, art, or culture, you’ve never been more wrong.

So why not try a 360° tour out? We think British nuclear bunker is an eye-opening place to start.

Check out the York Cold War bunker for yourself here and here