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.

To stay up-to-date, follow the blog on Twitter:

@coldwaruk

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Categories

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

Recent posts

Displaying posts tagged 'Civil Defence'

Britain’s Cold War Revealed at the National Archives

People looking at the exhibition

This week, I had the opportunity to visit the Britain’s Cold War Revealed exhibition at the National Archives at Kew. I was impressed at how it manages to explore a wide range of themes in such a small exhibition space.

The exterior is styled like the entrance to a bunker, and you’re encouraged to sign in by taking an official-looking name badge. You can even choose your role in the bunker – including Camp Commandant (obviously the best choice, as you get to be in charge) and Scientific Officer. There are a few more activities along this theme once you get inside the exhibition proper, which I imagine are intended for kids. Fortunately, nobody stopped me from participating, and I walked away with my very own officially-stamped travel pass.

As I mentioned, the exhibition space is quite small (and the topic is rather big). I chatted with the curator, Mark Dunton, who suggested the space may be expanded for future exhibitions. However, they’ve managed to make good use of the space they have, and there’s plenty to see, including original documents from the archives, cultural artefacts and some interactive exhibits.

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Next on CITV… the Four-Minute Warning?

Pop quiz: What connects beloved children’s shows Woof!, Bernard’s Watch and Tarka the Otter with nuclear war?

Woof!

Well, it turns out that these classic pieces of kids’ entertainment share a director with The Hole in the Ground, a 1962 film created for the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation (UKWMO).

Commissioned to showcase UKWMO’s quick response to a nuclear strike on Britain – indeed, they were the organisation tasked with issuing the Four-Minute Warning. The film was directed by David Cobham, who went on to create many happier memories through his work on cherished children’s films and TV shows through the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Continue reading →

The York Experiment

Cover of the York Experiment report

In 1965, Civil Defence preparations in the UK were at an all-time high. The government had issued advice to householders on constructing a basic domestic fallout shelter. But would it actually be effective? York’s Civil Defence Committee decided to find out for themselves.

You can find out what happened next in The York Experiment, my article for History Today’s ‘Miscellanies’ series.