During the 1930s, aerial bombing technology developed rapidly and the threat of an international conflict grew ever greater. In 1938, it was considered necessary to plan for such an event, and thus a refuge was created in central London that could be used by senior Chiefs of Staff and the War Cabinet. The space was created out of basement rooms beneath the Office of Works, beside the present-day Treasury buildings and just blocks from No. 10 Downing Street. The Cabinet War Rooms became operational during August 1939, though they are more associated with Churchill, who used them extensively after he became Prime Minister in May, 1940.
The Rooms were very basic, and Churchill is said to have disliked them, choosing only to use the facilities when bombing made it risky to meet above-ground. The War Cabinet held 115 meetings below ground, and numerous civil servants, military personnel, and government ministers spent time in the Rooms. To this day, some of the rooms remain exactly the same as they were when abandoned at the end of World War Two, while others have been reconstructed.
|Conference Room for the Chiefs of Staff|
|The Meeting Room of the War Cabinet|
|Look at all those pretty telephones|
|The desk from which Churchill made some of his most famous broadcasts|
|A pair of slippers is next to the bed,|
and a half-smoked cigar on the nightstand
|Clementine Churchill's pretty room|
|The room of Brendan Bracken,|
Minister of Information
|Tommy Thompson, Aide de Camp|
to the Prime Minister
|(Not the Map Room)|
Post-war, four of the rooms were preserved and tours of the facility were available. In 1984, the Imperial War Museum finished a restoration of the Rooms, and in 2001, they restored the rest of the space (that which had not been publicly accessible after 1948). There is also a Churchill Museum in the middle of the War Rooms, which was fascinating - we spent over an hour just in this one room. It was very well-balanced, and this historian was very impressed by that.
This is certainly one attraction I can recommend - we really enjoyed looking around the Cabinet War Rooms and the Churchill Museum. (This is starting to sound a bit like a sales advert... But really, it was great!) I love history! And with every blog post, you all come closer to loving history too!