Jack on look-out for bunker help project

RESTORATION GROUP: Jack Hanlon has restored a Cold war Bunker near Great Ayton and is appealing for new members.
RESTORATION GROUP: Jack Hanlon has restored a Cold war Bunker near Great Ayton and is appealing for new members.

A 16-YEAR-OLD military enthusiast is appealing for memorabilia relating to Hartlepool’s former Cold War bunker.

Hartlepool teenager Jack Hanlon has restored a disused Royal Observer Corps Cold War bunker in Chop Gate, near Great Ayton, in North Yorkshire.

Now the English Martyrs School student hopes to hear from any ex-members who manned the town’s own bunker when it was situated near High Throston Golf Club.

Jack said the UK was served by 1,563 Cold War bunkers, where volunteers would monitor radiation levels during the political conflict between Russia and the USA and its allies.

Royal Observer Corps personnel would monitor any potential fall-out from nuclear bombs.

Jack and his friend, Nathaniel Ham, from Northallerton, restored the 15ft x 7.5ft North Yorkshire bunker after tracking down its location, on a farm, through research.

It is eight foot high and 20ft underground and Jack and Nathaniel use it as a Cold War museum.

Jack, who lives with his parents, Terry and Paula, on the town’s Bishop Cuthbert estate, said: “I thought it would be good if we could bring it back into use.

“The farmer handed over the keys and we started working on it in April last year.”

Jack said the bunker was an empty shell, but now it houses beds, military documents and other memorabilia, as well as information on other UK bunkers.

Around 100 people have visited open days at the bunker, with visitors from as far as Derbyshire and Norfolk. The bunker in Chop Gate was built in 1962 and closed by the Ministry of Defence in 1991, the same year Hartlepool’s bunker was shut down.

Jack, who will start his A-levels at English Martyrs Sixth Form College in September, said: “We are still missing certain bits of equipment and paperwork from the Hartlepool site.

“People who worked in the bunker have probably got things in their loft and are wondering what they can do with it.

“They may not know someone has restored a bunker and opened up a museum and are able to look after this stuff properly.

“I would also like to hear their stories about their time in the bunker.

“I’m interested in the subject just because of the fact it was so recent – this was still going on in 1991.

“Not a lot of people knew about Cold War bunkers and to this day, not a lot still do.”

The next open day at the Chop Gate bunker is from 10am to 4pm on Sunday, August 28.

Any former Hartlepool bunker members who can help Jack can call him on (01429) 868018.