This office overlooked the control room

See inside the remains of this underground nuclear 'war room' in Yorkshire

These eerie photos were taken in 2011 - decades after this Cold War-era underground 'nerve centre' in Leeds was abandoned.

During the Cold War, detailed plans were made by the British government to co-ordinate both military and civil responses to a nuclear attack. 
Contrary to popular belief, there were no public shelters built to withstand nuclear war - it would simply not have been possible to provide enough for the civilian population.
 
Instead, bunkers were constructed in major cities to hold a select group of government and local authority staff who would run what remained of the country from these underground nerve centres.
 
In Leeds, War Room Region 2 was built on land off Otley Road in Lawnswood. It was one of a group of 13 two-storey, reinforced shelters built around the country from 1952 onwards, and they were intended to act as communications outposts for hand-picked officials, who would have enough food and recycled oxygen to last for several weeks. Each bunker would have been overseen by a Cabinet minister, who would have travelled from London in the days before an attack if it became clear one was imminent.
 
Staff would have reported to the central Government War Room in London, but they had powers of control if the capital were to be destroyed.
 
The bunker had a hospital, canteen, telephone exchange, and dormitories, as well as a filtration system to purify radioactive air. Around 100 people inside the bunker would have tried to restore services such as roads and electricity, co-ordinate food supplies and direct police and military teams on the ground.
 None of the staff would have been allowed to take family members into the shelter with them - if they refused to go to their post, they were subject to martial law enforced by the regional commander, who had the power to order summary executions for a range of offences.
 Despite costing around £1million each to build, this first wave of shelters quickly became obsolete as bomb technology became more powerful. The first War Rooms would have been inadequate in the event of a hydrogen bomb strike, and too small for the number of staff that would be needed in a devastating attack. A new network of larger bunkers called Regional Government Headquarters were built instead, and the Leeds bunker was downgraded in status beneath that of the regional nerve centre at Shipton, near York.
 
Leeds City Council took over the bunker as a local control centre in 1968 and it was in use until 1981, although only the upper level was occupied. It was decommissioned in the 1990s but was one of the final four of the original 13 to remain standing.
 
It passed into the ownership of a property company and was demolished in 2015, when the site was cleared for housing development. Our reporter was allowed access in 2011, when these images were taken by photographer Nick Catford.

The bunker had its own telephone exchange to co-ordinate communications

5. Telephone exchange

The bunker had its own telephone exchange to co-ordinate communications
Buy a Photo
In the days before email, this basket was used to transport messages between different floors of the building

6. Lamson message basket

In the days before email, this basket was used to transport messages between different floors of the building
Buy a Photo
This office overlooked the control room

7. Abandoned office

This office overlooked the control room
Buy a Photo
View more