I have wanted to go here longer than any other explorer. That isn't an exaggeration. My earliest memory of the long country lane that these are on is the August of 1976. I was 4. As my family returned from a holiday in Wales, the hillside was ablaze near here. Horrific flames reached high as the trees caught alight as Kinver Edge burned. The smoke engulfed my dads Maxi as we slowly made our way down the lane, driving over the hoses from the fire appliances that had come nearly 40 miles to help fight the fire. It was caused by a discarded glass bottle like many forest fires in the 1970's. It all added to the mystique of the road. The old barbed wire fences around here. The stories that if you ever were to wander into the compound around Drakelow, men would appear and very politely ask you to leave. I'd seen the yellow B.T vans outside now and again, and the whole place was scary and unknown.
My mom however knew more. In fact she had researched this place in 1962 as part of her college final year project. She knew about the Rover company and the blasting they had done of the soft sandstone rock and the machines that they installed to build the tank parts for the war effort. In fact, lets look at my mom's research, written in 1962. The photo of the Drakelow tunnels is from the Rover archive. You, dear reader are the first people to see this on the internet; it isn't available anywhere else yet.
Sorry about her handwriting. Did you see the structures above the tunnel entrance? The buildings were knocked down to avoid detection by the Germans, however the holes in the rock remain. They are rock houses. Here they are.
Drakelow Rock Houses, near Kinver, West Midlands, were inhabited during the 18th, 19th and early 20th century. They were carved out of the sandstone rock and glazed and had doors. They were warm in winter and cool in the summer.
Underneath were the tunnels, not carved, but blasted out. Three people lost their lives I think during this. They were blasted out to be used for a Shadow Factory. Here is one of the entrances. These used to frighten me. It is hard to imagine the cars racing here as the sirens sounded their four minute warning that a Russian Warhead was on it's way to destroy the world. The great and good would have entered here, and made their way in through the blast doors. Three months of time underground would have awaited them.
Anyone caught in the blast would have arrived and been decontaminated. Clothing would have been burnt in here.
They would have showered before making their way in.
Small corridors come off the main avenues through here. Medical bays, offices and other rooms would have been off these.
The air conditioning doesn't work in here at the moment. The whole place is a cool and damp environment. Wood is rotting and white pain peels off sandstone. In one of the main avenues a stopped clock remains.
The Regional Seat of Goverment, only used part of the tunnels. The older part was used by the Rover and remains empty, save for huge echoing caverns.
The rusting remains of a cold war kitchen.
The damp gets into everything, slowly rotting the communications room.
Like any ninja explorer, I visited here with my mom and dad and my kids. They had their own torch, courtesy of my exploring bag.
These were for important diplomats to update their Facebook status during a nuclear war to all of their friends who were dealing with limbs falling off etc.
Junior explorers really struggled with the concept of standing still during long exposure photography. Are these the smallest visitors to Drakelow? Probably not, but that is what I told them!
Jumbo thanks to Derelict UK (who gave us a personal tour) if you happen to read this. Sorry if I got the facts wrong. Far too busy taking photographs and not enough listening.