Edinburgh nuclear bunker could become visitor attraction for more than 100,000 people after plans submitted

The bunker is in Barnton Quarry and has undergone years of painstaking restoration.

Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 1:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 11th March 2020, 1:13 pm
Entrance tunnel at Barnton Nuclear Bunker, three miles from Edinburgh city centre

The transformation of a derelict nuclear bunker into a visitor attraction and conference centre could be on the way after plans were submitted to Edinburgh City Council.

The Barnton Quarry Nuclear Bunker is owned by Scotscrown Ltd, run by James Mitchell who also owns Scotland’s Secret Nuclear Bunker near St Andrews in Fife.

The plans follow a devastating blaze in 1993 when the building was set alight before years of gradual restoration work.

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GPO Equipment Room in Barnton Nuclear Bunker, three miles from Edinburgh city centre.

The proposals, which include turning some of the space within the bunker into conference facilities within the building on the surface, could see 100,000 people visit the attraction once open.

Overall, the bunker is more than 30,000 sq ft in size, similar to a large supermarket and would have been a safe haven for government ministers, members of the military, the police, fire and ambulance services, as well as BBC staff and telecommunications engineers who would have fled with the Queen to the bunker had she been in Edinburgh at the time of an attack.

The plans state: “Scotcrown’s aspirations for the site has always been the restoration of the bunker into an authentic, historically accurate representation of the functioning bunker.

“To this end it has been a gradual labour of love for many years now, with the growing involvement of enthusiasts and the local community.

“It is fully envisaged that this relationship and involvement will continue and continue to prosper & develop into the future.

“Our brief has been to crystallise the remainder of the exercise into the formal construction project required to deliver the finished article and to deliver the formal consent required to operate a viable and prosperous business into the future”

The design statement adds: “The vandalism that preceded Scotcrown’s acquisition of this unique slice of Edinburgh’s more recent history is well on the way to being rectified – this proposal seeks to secure a viable future to ensure that good work is built upon and the complex maintained for the benefit and interest of future generations.”

The site, which lies east of Clermiston Road North, is located within the south quarry of Barnton quarry and surrounded by woodland.

The bunker was commissioned in 1956 during the Cold War after the original building was constructed at the end of the Second World War, and was operational until 1982.

After being sold to a private owner it was stripped of all its original contents and filled with illegally dumped rubbish, before the fire in 1993 led to the total destruction of internal features.

However the fabric of the building was left largely undamaged and is now the only such bunker in its original format anywhere in the world.

The plans state: “Since being acquired by Scotcrown in a derelict state, painstaking efforts have been ongoing to restore the building to its original form and reinstate authentic contents.

“This includes the salvaging of much of the original ventilation system which has all required thorough shot-blasting to rescue it.”

The plans include the construction of stair lifts to allow disabled access.