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The bunker that Churchill hated
Paddock in Neasden

A small door in a wall between two semi-detached homes on a housing estate hides the main entrance to the secret concrete rooms and corridors created in the Second World War as a refuge for Churchill and the war cabinet. Paddock was the code name for this underground bunker.

Why Neasden?
This part of Neasden was home to a very secret Post Office research centre created in the late 1920s and early 1930s. This was where Tommy Flowers carried out the research that led to the design and construction of the first electronic computer, Colossus, at Bletchley Park. His computers played an essential part in cracking the most challenging of the German military codes.
 
Paddock in the war
The deepest level of Paddock was 14 metres underground and protected by a a concrete roof 1.5 metres thick. Above this was a second underground level covered with another concrete roof which was 1 metre thick.
 
Paddock duplicated the facilities of the Cabinet War Rooms in Whitehall but Churchill much preferred to be in central London and he only attended one of two cabinet meetings ever held in the Neasden bunker. He regarded it as a last resort if all else failed.
 
Paddock today
Paddock was locked up and abandoned at the end of the war. The post office research centre moved away in the early 1970s.
 
The housing association which build the homes above Paddock has to open the site to the public twice a year.
 
When the housing association reopened Paddock they found that it is very damp and that the lowest level is knee-deep in water. Stalactites hang from the ceilings and everything is covered in mould.
 
The original diesel-powered generator is still present together with the air filtering machines and gas-proof doors. Visitors also see the framework of the telephone exchange that connected the bunker to the outside world.

Submitted by: Jo Hunt, 20 January 2007

Find out about Paddock
 
Find out about code breaking from the Bletchley Park web site. While to learn about Colossus visit a web site by Tony Sale.

See also: Communication technologies

Project sponsors:

City sponsors:
ASE London Region
Nuffiled Curriculum Centre