Ancient Monuments

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MoD CORSHAM: Personnel Lift (PL) 2

A Scheduled Monument in Corsham, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.4215 / 51°25'17"N

Longitude: -2.2149 / 2°12'53"W

OS Eastings: 385152.93736

OS Northings: 169185.448494

OS Grid: ST851691

Mapcode National: GBR 1RF.YMM

Mapcode Global: VH96H.KJFN

Entry Name: MoD CORSHAM: Personnel Lift (PL) 2

Scheduled Date: 20 March 2013

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1409130

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 pair of high capacity lifts fitted and used to transport personnel between ground level and the underground Ministry of Aircraft Production (MAP) factory in the former Spring Quarry. Later adapted for access to the Central Government War Headquarters (CGWHQ).

Source: Historic England


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: a pair of high capacity lifts and lift shaft, fitted and used to transport personnel between ground level and the underground MAP factory in the former Spring Quarry. Later adapted, with a blast wall-protected lobby at upper level, for access to the CGWHQ.

DESCRIPTION: below ground the lifts are accessed by a wide doorway with six panelled timber doors with square windows to the top. They lead into a large lobby area built from brick, with a dividing wall providing passages to the two lifts. The lift control switches and controls remain on the dividing wall.

The lifts have external sliding concertina-style metal shutters, and internal sliding metal grille shutters. The lift-cars are steel-framed, lined with painted sheeting at the bottom and matchboard panelling at the top, and there is a sliding door between the two. Steel I-beams are exposed below the ceiling level, and the ceilings are plain sheeting with escape hatches within metal frames. The floors are covered anti-slip metal sheeting. There are various controls and bells affixed to the panelling, and information and warning signs. A large painted timber sign above the lift doors states 'PLEASE KEEP CLEAR OF LIFT GATES'.

The division of the foyer, and the access door between the two lift cars would have allowed organised alighting and departure for the great number of passengers.

At upper level are a vestibule and lobby, separated by a blast wall with two steel blast doors. All above ground structures are excluded from the scheduling. The scheduled area includes a 1m margin on all sides as well as above and below.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Personnel Lift (PL) 2 in the CGWHQ below MoD Corsham is designated as a Scheduled Monument for the following principal reasons:
* Period: the access route is testament to the importance of the subterranean aircraft factory in World War II, and secondarily to the perceived threat of nuclear strike that Britain faced during the Cold War;
* Rarity: this arrangement of a pair of high-capacity lifts with fortified shaft heads is particular to the CGWHQ;
* Survival: the lift cars, and the entrance ways with lift controls and timber doors remain largely intact;
* 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.

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, Second World War Secret Bunkers, (2010)
McCamley, N J, Cold War Secret Nuclear Bunkers, (2002)
Fox, S, 'Subterranea' in Top Secret - Acid, (2010)

Source: Historic England

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