How OUR council chiefs prepared for nuclear war

gimme shelter

gimme shelter

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Have you ever wondered what would happen if a nuclear bomb was dropped on our region?

Thankfully, at present, this seems quite fanciful, but during the Cold War the threat of a nuclear attack was very real and nowhere in the UK was safe, including the East Riding.

This created a significant challenge for the local authorities, who were tasked with making sure communities were well-equipped and prepared, should the unthinkable happen.

Now, recently opened archives provide a glimpse of how Humberside County Council was looking at how to give the best possible chance of survival in the event of a nuclear strike.

Emergency planning slides in the Humberside County Council archive collection, held by the East Riding Archives and Local Studies Service, in Beverley, reveal that the local authority made detailed experiments on the construction of blast shelters for families living in the former county of Humberside.

One such experiment was ‘Falfox’, carried out at Wawne, the designated emergency HQ for a nuclear attack, from 12 to 18 November 1979.

It looked at whether a typical family might be able to survive the fallout by hiding in an underground shelter, with limited food provisions.

The slides show that the shelter took 30 hours to construct and had an internal capacity of 950 cubic feet.

The cost of provisions was £58, which included items like porridge, whiskey and sherry.

Sam Bartle, collections officer, said: “We’re not sure what the results of the experiment were, but these slides are chilling proof of how seriously the threat of nuclear war was taken and how close we came to Armageddon.

“We can only hope that world events don’t lead to a repeat of the threat endured on all sides in the Cold War.

“The slides are available to view on request in the archives and local studies search room.”

For more details, call (01482) 392790 or visit the Treasure House, Champney Road, Beverley.

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