Protest & Protection

Over summer 2021 we worked on the ‘Protest & Protection’ project with The Snappy Trust, a charity based in York dedicated to maximising the potential of children and young people with wide-ranging disabilities. Using art and creative writing we explored Cold War protest movements and York’s elusive Cold War Bunker.

York Cold War Bunker, View of control room showing monitoring and communications equipment.

One of English Heritage’s ‘most modern and spine-chilling’ properties is The Cold War Bunker in York, this unique bunker was built in 1961, and designed to withstand a nuclear blast.

It was the operational nerve-centre for the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) – a branch of the military focused on monitoring nuclear threats during an era of heightened tension. In the event of a nuclear attack, members of the ROC sheltering in the bunker would have gathered data on explosions using high-tech equipment and issued warnings to civil authorities like the government, other branches of the military, and the public.

Exterior view up the steps towards the entrance to the bunker.

Exterior view of the bunker.

A member of Senior Snappy

During this project we investigated the history of the Cold War, focusing on protest movements and the protection offered by the Cold War Bunker. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, instead of a site visit, we explored the bunker virtually, using guided imagery, videos and photos to explore the site from a distance!

After learning more about the history of the site with researchers from York St. John University, we then took part in a series of creative writing and art workshops. Drawing symbols from Cold War era protest movements, we created postcards, and re-imagined what life would have been like in the bunker, writing messages on the back of our postcards to our family and friends. You can see some of our postcards below.

At the end of the project, we had a celebration event. Everyone got award certificates and we ate a lot of cake!

‘I will miss doing your sessions and I will always remember how good they were. I couldn’t thank you enough’

Feedback from Richard, a member of Senior Snappy

‘The project meant a lot and I found it interesting and exciting too.’

Feedback from Lauren, a member of Senior Snappy