Wednesday, 13 November 2013

More On That Secret Nuclear Bunker

Further to this post, I realised the other day that I'd missed out a critical part of the story that first got me interested in this sort of Cold War history.  

As you can see from this brief story, a local historian has managed to get hold of a set of maps put together by the Russians during the cold war, showing an extraordinary level of detail of the country and Nottingham in particular.  

The exhibition mentioned in the article was excellent, albeit criminally under-publicised and there was a little card suggesting that the maps could be bought from Mr Grimes along with his email address.  Being a nerd and a maps nerd at that, I of course sent of a criminally small amount of money and get back a CD of the maps in return.  

There is a reference to a couple of articles by John Davies called, "Uncle Joe Knew Where You Lived" and Part II here which give a wealth of fascinating detail of how the maps were compiled.  

The four Nottingham maps on the CD are at 1:10,000 resolution - ie incredibly detailed: the usual map that you might use for a walk in the countryside is 1:25,000.  The bits that I found most strange when browsing through the maps is the phonetic rendering of English places names into their Cyrillic equivalents.  

I'm hoping that I'm not in massive breach of the intellectual property that exists in the maps if I post some little extracts.  If I am then please get in touch and I'll take the images down immediately.  

This is The Park Estate and the eastern side of city centre
To bring us back to the original secret nuclear bunker post, this is the Russians' view of our regional command centre;

Note the special pink colour for military installation
A couple of things worth noting - the orange colour of some roads wasn't by chance - this was to designate which roads were wide enough to accommodate the width of the tanks that the Russians were planning to invade the UK with.  Is it just me for whom this creates a terrifying image of military hardware rolling down the ring road?  

Secondly, bearing in mind these maps, according to the "Uncle Joe..." series as linked above, were based on independent research rather than cribbing from existing maps, compare the maps of the Broxtowe and Aspley estates above and on the modern Google Maps.  

If anyone is interested in getting hold of a copy of the maps then please do let me know either through a comment below or via direct message on my twitter and I'll put you in touch with Mr Grimes.  


  1. Thanks for giving my Russian maps of Nottingham an airing. The Russian maps of the UK emerged in a warehouse in the small town of Cesis 100km east of Riga, Aivars Zvirbulis ran a small printing business. In 1993 he heard that a warehouse full of maps was being cleared. He was surprised to find the entire contents of 6,000 tonnes were going for pulping and negotiated to buy 100 tonnes. Aivars set up 'Jana Seta - Maps' in Riga and sold the maps from his shop for $2 each. By the time I got to hear about them the UK Gov had sent vehicles over to buy up all the UK maps to stop them getting into the hands of the public, they also declared the UK maps copyright. They were probably concerned about the strategic sites and military bases; not shown on OS maps and the glossary detailing what the sites were for.

    However, all was not lost. Aivars had sold the digital rasters of all the maps to a US company; Eastviews Cartographic from where I was able to buy the Nott's maps; [not for the $2 that Aivars charged] for $70 each.

    Do you know about the underground bunker off Edwards La. Sherwood. I thought it had been filled in around 1980 and the site built on, until a friend at Nottm Uni spotted it on a planning application. Unable to dig through 9ft of concrete the builder used it as a base for his house. Its down a long staicase at the end of a corridor; its huge with its own water and air filtration system and a generator. It even had a BBC studio.
    There were also nuclear bunkers beneath Seven Trent Water on Haydn Rd, Nottm. and Gt Central Rd, Mansfield. The WWII bunker in Watnall was used after the war as a nuclear control centre.

    Roger Grimes

  2. Hello Roger/Alex,
    I'm very interested in having a look at these maps. Could you contact me please? I'm Thanks, Steve