Communicating the Unthinkable

About

This is a blog where I share documents + artefacts from the Cold War. It focuses on British civil defence and 'domestic propaganda' from 1950-1990, with other bits thrown in from time to time.

It's written and edited by me, Taras Young. I collect this stuff. I try to post something new as often as I can, at least once a month.

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1950s · 1960s · 1970s · 1980s · 1990s · Administration · Advertisement · Analysis · Booklet · Central Government · Central Office of Information · Civil Defence · Civil Defence Corps · Document · Emergency planning · Home Office · International · Leaflet · Local Government · Media · Medical · Military · Ministry of Defence · Postcards · Protest · Public Information · Training and Tools

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Displaying posts tagged '1980s'

Next time, it won’t be so easy to hide

Image of people sheltering during the Blitz, captioned: Next time, it won't be so easy to hide

This ad for nuclear bunkers, which appeared in 1981, pits the popular notion of the Blitz spirit against the grim reality of nuclear attack. In doing so, it makes the earlier bombing of London seem something of a light-hearted game of hide-and-seek.

Ramping up the reader’s fear further, it describes – rather vaguely – the failings of the British civil defence programme, versus the large-scale preparations rumoured in Russia and China. Civil bunker-building efforts in neutral Sweden and Switzerland get a look-in, too, as the pitch questions whether the reader values their personal safety enough to buy a bunker.

The ad was placed by Luwa, a Swiss manufacturer of bunkers and associated ventilation systems. It plays heavily on the company’s expertise, its investment in research and development, and its close association with the Swiss government.

Apart from helping wealthy and paranoid homeowners construct their own shelters, Luwa components could also found in a few local authority bunkers in the UK (such as this one at Godalming) – and were more recently discovered in bunkers built for Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi.

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Scrapped fallout shelter scene from Protect and Survive

Even public information films have deleted scenes. Following on from my last post about the Domestic Nuclear Shelters pamphlet, it’s interesting to note that there was a scene planned for the Protect and Survive films about making an outdoor fallout shelter. However, the scene was scrapped at the storyboard stage.

Deleted scene

The unfilmed segment would have shown the construction of a makeshift nuclear bunker for your family. It was set to appear after the door-frame ‘inner core’ instructions in the Refuges episode.

“Dig deep enough for you to stand up comfortably, and make a trench about a yard wide and long enough for all your family”

Here’s the Refuges film as it finally appeared:

Domestic Nuclear Shelters

Domestic Nuclear Shelters cover

Domestic Nuclear Shelters was the UK government’s attempt to bring nuclear bunkers to the masses. Whether you wanted a deluxe, professionally-installed bunker, or would make do with a hole in the ground with a couple of doors for a roof, this guide had you covered (in more ways than one).

Domestic Nuclear Shelters cover

It was published in 1981, and – as you may have spotted from the ‘nuclear family’ symbol on the cover – was part of the same public information campaign as the ill-fated Protect and Survive.

There were two publications under this name – Domestic Nuclear Shelters, a thin A5 pamphlet, and Domestic Nuclear Shelters: Technical Guidance, a beefier A4 book. The former was intended as the most basic introduction to bunker-building for ordinary householders, while the bigger tome was aimed at tradesmen and engineers (and maybe the more dedicated/paranoid amateur).

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