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Central Government War Headquarters

A lesson in access skills

Story by December 1st, 2014

So the theory is infiltrate a live military base, gain access to a locked lift shaft, rig a rope down the shaft, abseil into the Government war headquarters and spend as long as you like dicking about. Exit is reverse of entry. Sounds simple enough, right?

There are some places that you hear about, read about, but never think you’re actually going to see. The central government war headquarters (known simply as “Burlington”) is one such place. It’s considered by many to be the ‘holy grail’ of exploring in the UK, many people have tried to get in over the years and a reasonable number have succeeded.

It’s all about seizing the moment with this place, leave it another week and that window of opportunity disappears as quickly as it appeared. At the tail end of 2014 myself and Frosty seized the moment good and proper and spent the next two nights walking about like we owned the joint. It was a surreal experience.

For those not in the know, this was where the UK government would have gone if the USSR had decided to obliterate our tiny island back in the days of the cold war. The idea was it would be able to sustain up to 4000 people for up to 3 months, which would have been the government office of the day together with a small army of domestic staff and other key individuals. It featured all the elements necessary to sustain people and run government including a fresh water supply and sewerage treatment, 4 massive generators, industrial kitchens, bedrooms, offices, bathrooms, a BBC studio, hospital and infirmary and massive store rooms full of everything they thought would be needed.
Oh, and it had the second largest telephone exchange in the UK which really was one of the best bits, so I’m going to show it to you first so you can mug off the rest of this page and go and do something more interesting, like watch a video of a cat or browse Facebook.


The reason why this place was a lesson in access skills is because this was the first place I ever used ropes to gain access to. I’d done some rope work before and I knew the basics, so in the enthusiasm of potentially gaining access to this place I ordered a load of rope gear online on Tuesday which arrived at work on Thursday giving me precisely 1 day to practice how to use it before we did this for real. What could possibly go wrong?


In places it’s a bit of a time warp here. Old posters on the walls and old bits of equipment dotted everywhere, but there’s equally so some newer stuff mixed in as well, presumably updated and replaced as the world changed and the bunker aged. It’s still amazing to think that absolutely nothing in this place was ever used!


Even thou I’d seen plenty of photos from here online over the years, I was still amazed when I rounded the corner into areas like the Kitchen. Yes the delivery tags really are still on the ovens and the boilers have never been used. It’s amazing that somewhere can be so familiar to you through pouring over other peoples photos yet still feel like an exciting new discovery. I don’t get that feeling very often when I visit well documented places as you kinda know what to expect, but with this place it was very different.


I’m running out of things to say really, just enjoy the photos. That big blast door by the way leads into the quarry next door which is still partially used by government operations. The temptation to open it was massive, but we’re pretty sure bad things would have happened had we pushed our luck and we hadn’t even finished looking round the quarry we were in!


This place gave me two of the most memorable nights I’ve ever had, it was worth all the effort we’d put in, and all the effort others had put in as well. I cannot take credit for the access to here, that came out of a chance conversation with someone at a meet and many people used the same window of opportunity to get in. It was however still an adventure to top all and will take quite a lot of beating.