Essex Secret Bunker

Furze Hill Bunker - Mistley Bunker

Useful Information

Location: At Mistley near Manningtree, 16 km from Colchester. A12 (from London) past Chelmsford/Colchester. Take the A120 turning to Harwich and then the B1352 to Mistley. signposted.
Open: MAR-OCT daily 10:30-17. AUG daily 10:30-18. NOV-FEB Sat Sun 10:30-16:30. Closed 02-DEC to 05-JAN.
Fee: Adults GBP 4.95, Seniors GBP 4.45, Children GBP 3.75, Family (2+3) GBP 15, 4 Adult/Senior Saver GBP 16.50, Disabled/Students/Unwaged GBP 2.50.
Groups (10+): Adults GBP 3.50, Children GBP 3.
Groups (30+): Adults GBP 3.25.
Classification: SubterraneaSecret Bunkers atomic bunker (cold war remnant)
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: Ar=1,300m².
Guided tours: self guided, D=90 min. Several special tours for groups, require booking.
Address: Essex Secret Bunker, the Mistley Bunker Preservation Trust, Crown Building, Shrubland Road, Mistley, Manningtree, Essex CO11 1HS, Tel: +44-1206-392271 (info) or +44-1206-395680 (booking), Fax: +44-1206-393847. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1951 built for the Royal Artillery (War Office).
1963 command centre purchased by Essex County Council from the war office.
1966 the Bunker became the main Emergeny HQ for the County.
1980 became the Stand-By HQ for Essex.
1993 de-commissioned along with many others, at the end of the Cold War.
1995 the building was renovated and refurbished.
1996 opened to the public.
01-DEC-2002 closes for a major refit and no re-opening is planned as yet.


Essex Secret Bunker is one of numerous bunkers built during the Cold War. And like many others it was decommissioned at the end of the Cold War.

The plans of the early 1950s included four HQ's that divided the County of Essex into four areas and would have been controlled from Chelmsford. But the Chelmsford HQ was not built until 1980, and so this bunker was HQ between 1966 and 1980.

The bunker is still fully equipped and gives a good impression, how it looked during the Cold War. Some of the rooms are today used for cinemas, to give the visitors background information. Cinema 1 shows a short film, which introduces the Bunker and tells his story briefly. Cinema 2 shows some of the actual Broadcasts that would have gone out on National TV in the event of a Nuclear Attack. Cinema 3 is currently showing a 30 minute documentary about the Cold War.

The centre of the bunker is the two level Operations Room which is still originally equipped. Other rooms contain the dormitory, the telephone exchange, the COMCEN, the controllers office, and the radio room.

This bunker was not built for this purpose, but purchased from the war office. 1951 the construction of a chain of bunkers started, which should act as command centres for the deployment and firing of anti-aircraft defences. They were called Anti Aircraft Operations Rooms (AAOR's). But new weapons, like the jet plane, made them rather worthless after only three years. So this bunker was not really useful anymore and was sold to the Essex County Council. This was a real bargain, as they payed only a few thousand pound, where a new bunker would have cost millions.