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MoD CORSHAM: Prime Minister's Rooms and Operations Rooms

A Scheduled Monument in Corsham, Wiltshire

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Latitude: 51.4204 / 51°25'13"N

Longitude: -2.2161 / 2°12'58"W

OS Eastings: 385066.667266

OS Northings: 169070.025819

OS Grid: ST850690

Mapcode National: GBR 1RF.Y8C

Mapcode Global: VH96H.JKSF

Entry Name: MoD CORSHAM: Prime Minister's Rooms and Operations Rooms

Scheduled Date: 20 March 2013

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1409131

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 group of rooms built from breezeblock and brick into the existing stone pillars of the former Spring Quarry. This group of rooms would have been central to the operation of the Central Government War Headquarters (CGWHQ) in the event of occupation, providing living accommodation for the Prime Minister, a map viewing room and an observation or briefing room.

Source: Historic England


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: a group of rooms built from concrete block and brick into the existing stone pillars of the former Spring Quarry. This group of rooms would have been central to the operation of the Central Government War Headquarters in the event of occupation, providing living accommodation for the Prime Minister, a map viewing room and an observation, or control room.

DESCRIPTION: the Prime Minister’s Rooms comprise two adjacent rooms numbered 34 and 35. They are roughly 6m square in plan, orientated north-west to south-east. Room 35, to the north, is the inner chamber, reached only through room 34. It is built partially into the quarried rock face, and partially in concrete block, with brick supporting columns. The walls are built to approximately 2.5m in height, above which they are divided by wire mesh. Room 34 has access doors from the corridor and from room 36, to the west. The rooms are fitted with an internal telephone and bell system.

Across a corridor to the south of the Prime Ministers rooms are the map viewing room and operations room. They comprise an observation, or control room to the north, numbered 45, overlooking the large map viewing room, numbered 44, and two small storerooms adjoining this to the south, numbered 44A and 44B.

Access to the observation or briefing room is within a few metres of the Prime Minister’s rooms, up a short flight of concrete steps. It is roughly 7m square, built of concrete block and has a large, timber-framed horizontal window running the length of its south-east wall, giving a view down on to the map room. The map room is a roughly rectangular room, 17 x 8m, orientated south-west to north-east; it is built partially into the quarried rock face and partially in concrete block. The wall separating the map from the control room is built from red brick, and there is a painted brick column in the map room. Access is via a doorway from the corridor to the north-west, from the south through room 44B, and via the third store room, numbered 51, not included within the area under assessment.

There are three 1.5m² pin boards fixed to the east, south and west walls, intended to hold maps and be visible from the briefing room.

The doors to all the rooms are timber with plain round door handles, with painted numbers on the outward sides.

The two small storerooms are breeze block between stone pillars. Room 44B provides access between the map room and East Second Avenue to the south. A bathroom with porcelain fittings is located nearby, and denotes the high status of the area. It includes a toilet, urinal, sink and drinking fountain.

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 Prime Minister’s and Operations Rooms in CGWHQ, below MoD Corsham, are 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 for an operational hub and centrally located accommodation for the Prime Minister following a nuclear strike;
* Rarity: the site itself is unique, and this set of rooms would have been at the heart of operations in the event of nuclear strike;
* Documentation: the CGWHQ telephone system directory provides evidence of the intended use of the set of rooms;
* Survival: the rooms retain their communications infrastructure, and map pin boards remain on the walls;
* 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 Bath Stone chamber, with breeze block partitions is redolent of the grim character of the Cold War era and the functional nature of the area.

Source: Historic England


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

Source: Historic England

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