Formby's sand dunes hold a bunker full of history from the cold war
Mysterious structure in the dunes is a relic from the 60's cold war period
Built in July 1962, Formby's nuclear observation post is a relic from cold war.
The bunker, which is still intact, is located in the sand dunes at the bottom of Albert Road, deep in Ravenmeols.
Many Formby residents who happened to venture out that far assumed the post was from WWII. But in recent years Formby Civic Society had done much to educate residents about its real history.
The structure, built by the Royal Observation Corps next to a WWII observation post, was one of a wave of units built during the early 1960s across the country. It would have used a ground zero indicator to measure the dimensions of the fireball in the sky, and this would have provided vital information on the nature of the blast and its consequences for the civilian population.
Each post consisted of an underground room 15ft by 8ft, and was manned by three people. In an emergency the crew would lock themselves in, with enough food and water to survive underground for a couple of weeks.
The site was well chosen, since it enjoys a superb view of Liverpool, with the Anglican Cathedral clearly visible. The FCS website has a page dedicated to the structure and an article written by FCS member Jack Gore.
Reg Yorke and Jack Gore at Formby observation post
He writes: "Then the first salvo of missiles would disable all UK military sites, with a total estimated force of 80 megatons. This would be followed by 130 megatons distributed over population centres. Merseyside was one of the prime targets and one would envisage perhaps an air-burst at 5000 feet of a five to ten-megaton weapon.
"A fireball ten thousand feet across would send a flash of heat and light sufficient to set fire to vegetation and cause blindness and severe skin burns to anyone in the way. Immediately, everything within three miles of Liverpool city centre would disappear. Curiously, the blast wave would take at least half a minute to reach here but then, travelling at several hundred miles an hour, it would flatten the already blazing pinewoods, and effectively demolish every building but the very strongest.
In this area there would be almost complete fatalities and across the UK, twenty million would have perished within an hour, millions more each following day. Those left alive would have little chance of survival as rain and wind brought the effects of radioactive fallout to a devastated landscape.
Years later, the millions of tons of soot, dust, ash and pulverised cities released into the upper atmosphere would have affected the Ozone layer so much as to bring another Ice Age to the planet – the so-called ‘nuclear winter’.
"And to think we came so close – the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 could so easily have triggered ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ (another grim catchphrase of the period) had not the diplomatic skills of Kennedy and Khrushchev averted the unthinkable by agreeing to a mutual removal of each other’s missile sites."
Formby's observation post was closed toward the end of the decade, and replaced with a bunker at RAF Woodvale, which was used until 1991.
For more information go to the Formby Civic Society website