The first museum we visited today, the York Cold War Bunker, is something you all need to see. Early last year, whilst in Berlin, I did their Cold War and Second World War bunker tours. They were phenomenal. When I saw that York had something similar, I just could not resist.
We arrived bright and early just before the first tour of the day. You can only access the bunker on a tour (times are on their website). At 10.00 am sharp we were greeted by an incredibly enthusiastic tour guide who welcomed us, along with five other people, inside. It is a small entrance price to pay to literally walk through history.
The bunker was occupied by the ROC (Royal Observers Corps) from 1961 until 1991. The main job of the ROC volunteers and staff was to be on the lookout for any nuclear activity and to notify the wider community as soon as possible if any was detected. Luckily, nothing serious happened during the Cold War with regards to nuclear weapons and England.
Everything inside is original, how the bunker was left in 1991. This just adds so much atmosphere to the place. The full capacity of the bunker was sixty people that could, theoretically, survive for thirty days inside. Being in there for just one hour was enough. The most time anyone spent down there was 72 hours so very lucky indeed. I cannot speak highly enough of this museum/living history site. Get yourself there if you’re ever in York!!
Afterwards we decided to visit the York Castle Museum. Another great museum. I say that a lot but like I said in a previous post I strongly believe museums have different things to offer. The Castle Museum has a reconstructed Victorian street you can walk down. Fully equipped with shops you can walk inside and check out. There was also a police station and school.
On another level was a First World War exhibit. Similarly, it was incredibly interactive. It was an incredibly moving temporary exhibition taking you through the trenches, the homefront and the end of the war. Object highlight: embroidered pieces of fabric soldiers would send home to their loved ones (pictured below).
We were also lucky enough to see an exhibit on the 1960s. Fashion, music and homewares all combined together to make for fascinating displays.
Today was very interactive and insightful. From the Victorian era to the Cold War we saw, touched and smelt history – the way it should be. History at its absolute best!