From 1949 to 1991 Britain lived in the shadow of the Cold War. Against a background of political propaganda and espionage, and the threat of nuclear annihilation, thousands of women served underground on Britain’s frontline of defence. Their roles and responsibilities in these windowless worlds have been hidden, until now.

In Yorkshire women served in Cold War bunkers and monitoring posts. Many underwent training with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Observer Corps (ROC). Others were emergency planning officers, or civilian workers. They signed the Official Secrets Act before passing through blast-proof doors and descending into underground labyrinths or climbing down ladders into holes in the earth.

Some joined because the money was good, although women worked alongside male colleagues doing the same job for less pay. Some joined as teenagers. Some wished to serve their country.  Some joined because it was different, an adventure.

Lives changed underground during the Cold War. Romances blossomed, marriages were made and friendships were forged. Sixty years on, the women returned underground to reflect on the important roles they played in this significant period in world history.

Project funded by Arts Council England.

Website design and developed by Miles Essex
Website by