Cold War bunker was closed in 1970s

Cold War bunker in Lurgan
Cold War bunker in Lurgan

A local historian has uncovered photos of a mothballed Cold War Bunker in Lurgan used as a monitoring post.

The bunker, which was situated in a field just off the junction of the Kilmore Road and Cottage Road, was aptly codemanmed ‘Golf 3’.

Alistair McCann, who owns a similar Cold War Bunker near Portadown, uncovered fascinating documentation on the Lurgan bunker which Kew Public Records Office recently.

He explained that in 1958 at the height of the Cold War the British army decided to build 1500 such monitoring posts to monitor and report the effects of nuclear weapons if the Cold War had ever turned ‘hot’.

They were created by the Royal Observer Corps which was formed just after WW1 to monitor and report enemy aircraft movements. The unit came to Northern Ireland in 1954 with their HQ at Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn.

Of the 1,500 total posts built, there were 58 in Northern Ireland and one based in Lurgan.

Opened in 1959 it was manned by civilian volunteers from the surrounding area on a part-time basis.

They took part in regular military exercises to train them for the worse case scenario.

The Chief Observer was called Tom Kennedy who worked full time as sales rep for Lovell and Christmas who sold Pork products. So pork salesman by day and nuclear bunker crew member by night! (Rank structure was Chief, Leading and Observer, plus in those days females could also serve on the posts.

In 1972 the Lurgan post was broken into by persons unknown and set on fire. Items for monitoring nuclear explosions and radio equipment was stolen - one piece of equipment was used to give the famous ‘4 minute warning’.

A few weeks later a routine Army patrol found an arms cache in a ditch roughly a mile from the post site. As well as numerous weapons and ammunition they also recovered two items of equipment that they did not recognise.

New of the arms find reached the local press and the Lurgan Mail printed a photo in its October 1972 edition. Chief Observer Tom Kennedy saw the photo and immediately called Lurgan RUC station to identify the items. He then had to travel to RAF Aldergrove to reclaim them.

“Sadly all of this was in vain as the farmer who owned the land decided that he no longer wished to have the bunker on his land so the decision was taken to close and demolish the post and to reopen the mothballed Portadown bunker which is now opened as a Cold War museum,” said Mr McCann.