Ancient Monuments

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MoD CORSHAM: Kitchen, Canteen, Laundry, Dining and Washroom Areas

A Scheduled Monument in Corsham, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.4209 / 51°25'15"N

Longitude: -2.2151 / 2°12'54"W

OS Eastings: 385139.084197

OS Northings: 169122.51981

OS Grid: ST851691

Mapcode National: GBR 1RF.YLJ

Mapcode Global: VH96H.KKB2

Entry Name: MoD CORSHAM: Kitchen, Canteen, Laundry, Dining and Washroom Areas

Scheduled Date: 20 March 2013

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1409120

County: Wiltshire

Civil Parish: Corsham

Built-Up Area: Corsham

Traditional County: Wiltshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Wiltshire

Church of England Parish: Neston

Church of England Diocese: Bristol


A series of rooms in multi-levelled underground chambers for Central Government War Headquarters (CGWHQ), formerly a Bath Stone quarry, but converted to a kitchen and canteen facility with attached washrooms in the mid-C20. There has been some reordering in the later C20.

Source: Historic England


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: a substantial canteen and kitchen area set on two levels, with four principal components: the Bottom Kitchen, the Servery, the Tea Bar and the Rear Laundry. There are also male washrooms attached to the north. The CGWHQ Kitchen and Canteen Area covers 3,382 metres square.

DETAILS: the Bottom Kitchen is a large-scale catering facility containing industrial-size equipment, fitted and/or plumbed, including ovens, steam ovens, deep fat fryers, hot plates, tray steamers, heated cupboards, three large chiller cabinets and a dishwasher. They are arranged in sub-areas, mostly below metal extraction hoods with attached lighting. To the rear (east), behind a brick partition wall, is the Rear Laundry with industrial-size washing machine, drier, a press and four ironing stations. One of the irons has been removed. The south end of the Bottom Kitchen is partly partitioned, and has food preparation areas, sinks and a secondary servery with access to the upper level.

The main servery area stands to the west of the Bottom Kitchen behind a brick partition wall with doorways. The Servery itself has a concrete block front below a concrete counter. To the rear, the counter top is metal above warming cupboards. Centrally positioned in the servery are three metal serving cabinets with four square covers each. Plant machinery stands to the north of The Servery. Directly in front of The Servery is a large Bath Stone pillar (T12) supporting the roof. On either side of the pillar are stairs and ramps with steel handrails connecting with the upper area that is focused on the Tea Bar. The Tea Bar has two concrete counters, each with a fixed Stott coffee machine. The surrounding area is largely open, former quarry working areas, that may have provided segregated dining areas. To the east of the Tea Bar are large double-doors forming one of the principal entrances to the canteen. The double-doors to the north of the Tea Bar form the other main entrance, with men's washrooms located beyond, containing sinks, toilets and showers.

All above ground structures are excluded from the scheduling. The designated area includes a 1m margin on all sides as well as above and below.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The CGWHQ Kitchen and Canteen, below MoD Corsham is designated as a Scheduled Monument for the following principal reasons:
* Period: the peril from the threat of nuclear strike that Britain faced during the Cold War is inherent in the need to provide this facility to sustain the staff required to prepare for retaliation and recovery following a nuclear strike.
* Rarity: this is the only known kitchen of its kind, including many fittings that cannot be found elsewhere.
* Survival: the rooms retain their original fittings and serveries, unused but ready for use.
* Group Value: the CGWHQ site is an unparalleled example of our national Cold War defence heritage, and represents the systematic use of expansive underground areas by industry and the military during the C20.
* Representative: the sober fitting out of the whitewashed Bath Stone chamber, with breeze block partitions, is redolent of the grim character of Cold War military installations, and the functionality of large-scale government welfare facilities.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Catford, N, Burlington, (2012)
Hennessy, P, The Secret State, (2010)
McCamley, N J, Secret Underground Cities, (2000)
McCamley, N J, Cold War Secret Nuclear Bunkers, (2002)
McCamley, N J, Second World War Secret Bunkers, (2010)
Fox, S, 'Subterranea' in Top Secret - Acid, (2010)

Source: Historic England

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