Sounds of the Cold War

We have been working on the ‘Sounds of the Cold War’ project with young people from Grimm &. Co., a literacy and creative writing charity based in Rotherham. The project focuses on uncovering the hidden stories of 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, The Cold War Bunker is a really unique site. Built in 1961, the Bunker was 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.

8 seats for the plotters in the Operations Room. It was their job to take down information from monitoring posts.

Seats for the plotters in the Operations Room. It was their job to take down information from monitoring posts.

During this project we will be investigating the Bunker’s secretive history. We will virtually explore the bunker, guided by Senior Curator, Kevin Booth. After learning some interview skills from researchers at York St. John University, who are conducting their own oral history research project, we will have a sharing session with members of the Royal Observer Corps who worked at the bunker before it was vacated in 1991.

Using the evidence we have gathered as inspiration, everyone will create their own imagined narratives of the Cold War. We will turn these ideas into scripts and then, working with a sound artist, we’ll professionally record those scenarios. These recordings will be turned into an audio soundscape experience.