Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Behind Closed Doors...

No, it's not the entrance point to Hangar 18! Not so much Fortean in nature, but a minor bit of secrecy and cover-up.

This photo shows my dad, Frank, pointing at one of a number of large, thick, tall doors at the Cannock Leisure Center in the town of Cannock, Staffordshire, England (which has since been dramatically refurbished - this photo was taken back in 2000).

You may wonder, why on earth would a center dedicated to simply providing the people of Cannock access to exercise machines, a swimming pool, etc need such vast and powerful doors made of solid, thick wood?

They look like they might be able to withstand an earth-shattering explosion, right?


Before his retirement at 65, my dad worked for his entire life as a carpenter (aside from a three year period in the British Royal Air Force, which he served when National Service - the Draft in the U.S. - was still in place).

And, being based in Cannock, the company he worked for got the contract to build and install these very doors. In fact, my dad helped put this particular door into place.

But, why?

Well, I'll tell you!

Unknown to the vast majority of the good folk of Cannock, back in the 80s, and in the event of a national emergency (such as a confrontation with the Soviets that might have escalated into a full-blown nuclear exchange between the super-powers), the lower-level of the leisure center was secretly singled out by officialdom to act as a refuge area that could allow for some continuation of local/regional government (while the rest of us would be left to fry in the above-surface radioactive nightmare...).

Hence the curious-looking, super-tough doors.

Of course, in reality, in an all-out nuclear war, such a place would have offered very little - if, indeed, any - real protection from the mighty power of the atom. And the doors, designed to provide some degree of protection to those behind them, would likely have been vaporized in an instant.

But, what I find interesting is that this was a Cold War secret that for years, and for all intents and purposes, was right under people's noses. Very few, however, ever realized the center's big secret and the reason behind the construction of those huge doors!

Well, now you do!


  1. Municipal buildings all over the country had these. They were usually quite openly signposted too, with the radiation symbol and/or "fallout shelter" or similar. I guess after the Cold War people simply forgot about them.

  2. Gabriel:

    The Cannock one was somewhat different. I have some of the official files on this that have surfaced via the Freedom of Information Act and reference the (QUOTE) "secondary role" of the center as an issue to be kept as "low-key" as possible.

  3. Was your dad sworn into secrecy after he installed those doors?

  4. Nope, at the time they were simply told the doors were in accordance with new "health and safety" issues. It was only a few years later that the truth filtered down from an employee of regional government.