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Monday, 27 November, 2000, 15:23 GMT
Former nuclear bunker for sale
A Cold War-era nuclear fallout bunker is expected to fetch up to 500,000.

The three-storey underground building near Skendleby, Lincolnshire, has 30,000 square feet of space underneath a three-bedroomed bungalow designed to disguise it from the air.

As well as sleeping berths for 130 people, it has decontamination showers, a 12,000-gallon storage tank, two 147-kilowatt generators and a canteen.

The bunker started life as a radar station in 1951 but was converted into one of 18 regional "operational command sites" protected by four-feet-thick concrete walls for government use in the event of a nuclear attack.

In addition to having the capacity to house at least one cabinet minister, the bunker contained a fully-equipped BBC studio ready to broadcast to survivors in other parts of the UK.

The Ministry of Defence sold 10 bunker complexes in the mid-1990s and the Skendleby installation was bought for 150,000 by a Lincolnshire storage company.

Just turning on the heating system drains a vast amount of power

Dr James Fox
Bunker Protection Trust
Now it is believed it may be sold for more than three times its original cost to a buyer interested in conversion.

A number of decommissioned bunkers have already been put to various uses.

House music performers K-Klass bought the Borras bunker in Wrexham, North Wales, for a recording studio, a bunker in Sandwich has been used to house an e-commerce server, and a bunker in Kirknewtown near Edinburgh was converted into a nightclub.

The Essex Secret Bunker Museum near Mistley, Colchester, is one of three former bunkers being used as a tourist attraction and English Heritage has listed one former bunker in Acomb, York.

Converted nuclear bunker in Poland
Other countries have dealt with Cold War legacy
Tom Morgan, of estate agents Pygott & Crone who are handling the Skendleby sale, said: "We have had dozens of people coming to view the property and it has only been on the market for a matter of days.

"One option is to turn it into a tourist attraction, serve refreshments in the canteen and you have people spending 10-15 a time."

But Mr Morgan warned potential bunker-dwellers that the surface bungalow contains only a guardroom and decontamination shower. Its "windows" are concrete painted black with a white cross to resemble the real thing.

Dr James Fox, of the Bunker Protection Trust, a Cold War heritage group, said the installation would be a useful acquisition although potential buyers could be put off by running costs of around 60,000 a year, including a potential 7,000 electricity bill.

He said: "Just turning on the heating system drains a vast amount of power.

"Under Edward Heath's administration, the site was manned and prepared for active use because he was so worried about civil unrest.

"During Margaret Thatcher's time in power, it was totally refurbished at a cost of 15m."

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