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The Cabinet War Rooms

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Cabinet War Rooms Overview

Constructed amid the global trepidation of the late 1930s, the Cabinet War Rooms were originally intended as little more than a bunker to shelter government personnel in the event of the belligerent diplomacy of the time becoming something worse.

When war did break out just one year later, the facilities deep beneath Whitehall were further reinforced and adapted to house the country's civil and military leaders. The labyrinth of corridors and rooms formed what was essentially a little city, directing the fight up above.

Once the threat from Nazi Germany had gone and replaced by the spectre of the Cold War, the facilities were closed off, largely as they were vulnerable to a direct hit from the advanced weaponry of the 1960s. They were opened up to the public in 1984 and now serve as one of the most fascinating tourist attractions in London.

In 2003, the rooms used as living quarters by Britain's wartime prime minister were opened as the separate Churchill Museum, with a combined ticket allowing entrance to both attractions.

Location of the Cabinet War Rooms

As would be expected for a facility which directed Britain's war efforts, the Cabinet War Rooms are located right in the heart of the country's corridors of power, on Whitehall.

Though the government offices beneath which the attraction is located are closed off to the public, visitors are able to take in the significance of the facilities as they walk either from the House of Parliament at one end of the street or Trafalgar Square at the other, while Downing Street and Westminster Abbey are both just minutes away for tourists looking to get a feel of the political and religious power of the country.

Easily reached either by bus or underground - with Charring Cross and Westminster the nearest stations - the noise of Blitz-era London or modern-day Westminster can be easily escaped through the adjoining St James' Park.

Why Visit the Cabinet War Rooms?

Not for nothing was Winston Churchill voted the Greatest Briton of All Time in a recent national survey. While even reading about his premiership gives fans of history an appreciation of his leadership skills, nothing can beat going back in time and gaining a true insight into the pressures he faced. In comparison to the reconstructions of the Imperial War Museum - to which it is linked - the Cabinet War Rooms are, by and large, untouched since the days of the war, with the Map Room a particular highlight. The charts of mainland Europe and the telephones used to call the generals are still lying as they were when they were abandoned, as is the private telephone used by Churchill to call President Roosevelt and hidden in a disguised bathroom.

Just as fascinating is the opportunity to see how day-to-day life carried on beneath the streets of London while the war raged above. As such, Churchill's living quarters are on display, as are those of the dozens of staff who worked down there as well and visitors can also get lost amid the pantries, radio rooms and even a shooting range.


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