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Scotland’s Secret Bunker

“Excuse me, is there a bathroom I can use?”

The lady behind the till rolled her eyes at me. “It’s doon there.”

Doon there was 40 metres underground. We were at Scotland’s Secret Bunker, one of Scotland’s best kept tourist secrets.

“So you’ll just have to wait,” she concluded, holding her hand out for the admission fee.

My friend Jenny came to stay in the summer of 2008 (hurrah for timely blogging) and after taking her to the Isle of Skye and the Highlands (where it rained endlessly, of course), we were determined to show off the local treasures of the Kingdom of Fife.

After a brief photo stop at Methil power station, the jewel of the Fife Riviera…

riviera.jpg

… it was onwards to the Secret Bunker.

Shh, don’t tell anyone.

Sign

This innocuous farmhouse is the front for the Cold War paranoia lurking beneath. Down a 140-metre sloping tunnel lies the bunker, 24,000 square metres of secret accommodation. It was built during the 1950s as a place for important government people to duck and cover in the event of a nuclear war.

Scotland's Secret Bunker

On paper the Bunker sounded rather cool. You’ve got the Cold War, the threat of Armageddon and a secret bunker way down underground. But as we pushed our way through the creaky turnstyle (just like the ones at council pools) and descended down the dark mould-and-mothball scented tunnel, it started to feel a wee bit creepy.

First there was a room playing a spooky 1960s public service film about life after a nuclear war. Then there was a room full of nothing but old telephones. The message seemed to be, “We’ve got a lot memorabilia and we’re going to show you all of it, no matter how random!”

There were also a lot of mannequins, carefully arranged to depict bunker life. In the sleeping quarters, they lay in bunk beds and stared up at the ceiling.

In contrast, the control room next door was a hive of activity…

Bunker Lady
No, you cannae have fries with that. Don’t you know there’s a cold war on?

At the big map, the man with the stick explained the current situation to the lady with the apparently dislocated arm.

"We are fucked here, here... and HERE."
“We are fucked here, here… and HERE.”

Another lady with tinted legs warned us of various things.

Warning!

She liked to break the rules.

Not to be stood on

In the next room was a truly baffling ashtray display.

ashtray.jpg

Then in another random room we learned that during the 1960s the bunker was staffed by the Civil Defence Corps. Boldly led by VANILLA ICE.

vanilla-ice.jpg

In the final room, perched on the back of an armchair and bathed in an eerie glow was a skeleton in a white coat. Doctor Skeleton MD, apparently, was determined to conduct business as usual despite the inconvenience of losing all his flesh and organs.

dr-bones.jpg

There was also a coffee shop, from which came the aroma of burning bacon. It smelled a little too much like the end of the world, so we scurried back up to the surface.

The Bunker Thank You Call Again

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


21 thoughts on “Scotland’s Secret Bunker

  1. I have kind of a thing for scoping out places like that, especially when there’s a conspiracy theory involved. I love that stool, btw, any stool here would just say, “Do not Stand on,” or something abrupt like that.

  2. Too cool! Next time you’re in the USA, you can tour a cold war bunker at a 5-diamond resort! Yep, the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia boast a formerly secret cold war bunker designed to house the Congress after a nuclear disaster. It was decommissioned in 1992 after the Washington Post revealed its existence. Unfortunately, I visited a year too early. http://www.thegreenbrier.com/site/bunker-tourguidelines.aspx
    And, you can have a lovely spot of tea afterwards.

  3. Well,she ain’t standin’…
    She’s on tiptoes!

    😉

    I wonder whether this or the WWII bunker I visited in Berlin was creepier… The one in Berlin was several levels deep, with some papers displayed and lots of empty, creepy space – and a ‘early medicine’ exhibit on one level. One of the displays had two mannequins in the process of sawing off the leg of third one with a seesaw…

  4. OMG-I’m laughing aloud at work…surely annoying my coworkers. I love the randomness, and your special take on it. Thanks for a morning belly laugh!

  5. (I second the Greenbriar emotion! been there. loved that. forgot the teeshirt.)

    and yeah.
    I laughed outloud at this a few times.
    worth the wait.
    dont make us wait this long for the next one 🙂

    **sets timer**

  6. great post! i grew up going on holiday to fife and i’ve always been fascinated with the bunker. i finally got to visit maybe 15 years ago.
    doesn’t look like its changed much over the years! did you see the chapel? i remember a poster saying you could get married there!! and i’m pretty sure there was a newspaper article pinned up with a story about the guy who worked there’s wedding! i’m pretty sure it the same guy who barricaded himself in there
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/3785945.stm
    it would send you mad working there i think.

  7. I’m happy to see Vanilla Ice is thriving.

    If you’re ever in Monterey, California, I have to recommend John Steinbeck’s Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum. You know, after you go to the Aquarium and other important things. To be honest, the museum is more of a 4th-tier tourist attraction, but we thought it was pretty great. It has a similarly creepy vibe and pretty horrible wax figures.

    I went with a good friend in 2005, and it was just outstanding. It’s in the second half of this post: http://kellyim.blogspot.com/2005/08/monterey.html.

  8. Love it. I must visit if ever in the area. All the same it is totally outclassed by the Barbed Wire Museum in Kansas. In Jane & Mike Tomlinson’s book about her cycle ride across America, there is a fabulous photo of Jane Tomlinson literally collapsed on the floor in tears of laughter at the sheer existence of this museum and its 2,000 different types of barbed wire on display. It kind of explains all on its own why Dorothy was so desparate to get away from Kansas.

  9. Loved your post! We’ve been there, and agree it was both creepy and crap. I still kind of wonder whether the mundane displays were made so as to attract less people to visit! Curious as to what was behind all the closed doors with keypads…. surely not more mannequins?!?
    ..

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