Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Page last updated at 14:37 GMT, Friday, 22 October 2010 15:37 UK
Devon house for sale - and nuclear bunker comes free
By Laura Joint
BBC Devon


Mike Thomas gives a tour of the shelter

The year is 1985, and the Cold War between east and west is still decidedly chilly.

Mike Thomas, working at the Royal Observer Corps (ROC), learns that one of the Soviet Union's potential targets for a nuclear attack is the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth.

Mike decides to take no risks when he builds his new house just two miles away at Hillhead, near Brixham.

"The Cold War was still very much on so I built a nuclear bunker," said Mike.

The ROC was the Government's nuclear warning and monitoring organisation, so Mike was 'in the know'.

"I was informed," Mike told BBC Devon.

"I have a Russian map with about 80 or so possible targets on it and the naval college in Dartmouth was one of them."

The steel door
The steel door to the bunker - strong enough to keep a nuclear attack at bay

Mike used his knowledge and skills to protect his family from any attack.

He bought a plot of land on the other side of the River Dart and, under his house, he built a nuclear bunker which is pretty much impregnable - the walls are steel-lined and range in thickness from 16 to 32 inches.

Twenty-five years on, and Mike is now trying to sell the house - complete with the bunker, which he built with the help of another expert, Maurice Leach.

"I think there is still a need for a bunker," said Mike. "And when I get my new house - which will be smaller - I will build another bunker, but it won't be so grand as this one.

"Obviously times have changed, but there are rogue states and there is the threat from terrorism. Scientists also predict a solar flare in 2013 which would be devastating."

So what would prospective purchasers get for the asking price of £350,000?

Apart from a detached split level home with four bedrooms, a large garden and sea views, they will also get a bunker which would save them from any attack - and which, as far as nuclear bunkers go, could be described as luxurious.

Food cans
The bunker is stocked up - just in case the worst happens

Access is via a ladder from inside the house.

"It's got everything and it's very spacious," said Mike.

"There are two main rooms, there is electricity, water, Freeview TV, toilet, telephone. You could stay there as long as you like as long as you have enough food. It has a constant temperature of about 12 degrees - it's very comfortable."

"And the thing is, fall-out from a nuclear explosion goes down by a factor of 1,000 within two weeks."

It has the added advantage of being sound-proof, which comes in handy for Mike's teenage son, Daniel: "He plays loud music down there."

Mike is having to sell the house as he is a full-time carer for his partner, Amanda.

"I'm loathe to see it go. I don't really want to sell it," said Mike.

A handful of people have viewed the house but so far, there have been no takers.

"We had the house on the market for £600,000 six years ago, but the market has crashed," said Mike.

But he says people should not be put off by the bunker: "You wouldn't know it's there unless I showed you. It's built into the side of the hill, under the kitchen and garden.

"And it's free."

Des res with some added security
20 Sep 04 |  Devon
Computer future for WWII bunker
27 Jan 10 |  Devon

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific