Churchill’s secret bunker really was a secret throughout World War Two (1939-1945).
There are War Rooms under Whitehall, where Churchill held cabinet meetings and slept but he also had another bunker, 40 ft below ground in sleepy Brook Road, Neasden in north-west London.
The bunker, codenamed Paddock, was an alternative to the Cabinet War Rooms at Whitehall, which would not have survived a direct hit. This bunker was deep enough to be completely bombproof. Paddock was meant to be Churchill’s last refuge if the World War 2 Battle of Britain had been lost. It was designed to accommodate the entire war cabinet and 200 staff.
Paddock was so secret, that Churchill only described it as “near Hampstead” in his memoirs. He used it just once for a war cabinet meeting because he thought it was too far away from the city and he found it rather damp.
The bunker was sold to Network Homes (then called Network Housing Association) in 1997 and we built social housing on the land above. We installed electricity and pumps, without which the bunker would be knee-high in water, and made it safe. These works cost £15,000.
As a housing association our priority is developing good quality homes that people can afford, so it is not possible for us to recreate the bunker as it would have been in Churchill's day. But we do recognise, that the bunker is of great historic interest and there is huge demand from local people and visitors from around the world to get a glimpse of this wartime hideaway.
For more information about the history of the Paddock, please go to the Subterranea Britannica website.