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Visit Churchill War Rooms, London

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The Churchill War Rooms is actually a combination of two separate pieces: The Churchill Museum, exploring the life of Winston Churchill, and the Cabinet War Rooms, the underground complex where Churchill directed the forces during World War II. Preserved and looked after by the Imperial War Museum, the Churchill War Rooms are a must see for lovers of history, or those who are interested in learning more about our military past or the life and times of Mr. Churchill himself.

Construction

The War Rooms actually were initially created to be used in the event of war or aerial bombing. Meeting in 1936, the Air Ministry (the British government department that oversees the Royal Airforce) recommended that, in the event of enemy bombings on London, key government offices should be taken out of central London to the suburbs. To prepare for this, the Committee of Imperial Defence began a search to find a suitable location for a temporary emergency government meeting point. The area that was chosen was the basement of the New Public Offices (which now houses HM Treasury).

Conversion of the basement of the New Public Offices into the War Rooms began in June 1938. Work done in the basement installed broadcasting and communication equipment, provided ventilation, and also reinforced and sound-proofed the basement. Around this time, it was decided that should war break out, a Central War Room would be needed for Chiefs of Staff of armed forces and the government Cabinet to be able to meet. This would also mean that members of the Cabinet would need to be housed nearby senior military figures – so it was decided that the Cabinet would be housed inside the Central War Room. This decision meant that the Cabinet War Rooms would become the centre of all British military decisions made during WWII.

The works on the War Room were completed in 1939 and became operational on 27th August in that year – literally days before Britain’s declaration of war on Germany on the 3rd September, 1939.