‘Home to the Burlington nuclear bunker, Britain’s last throw of the dice in the event of an apocalyptic conflict, Wiltshire is the place you should sprint towards when the shit hits the fan.’
Ninety minutes after a drunk American Commander in Chief accidentally sits on the button, members of the Royal Family, Privy Councillors and gold Blue Peter badge winners will be quickly ushered in to the 4,000 capacity cavern to enjoy a complementary glass of refreshing fruit juice while the rest of us are transformed into hot smears.
With the looming spectre of nuclear destruction tucked away in their midst, inhabitants of Wiltshire could be forgiven for a certain level of jumpiness, particularly with the Army using Salisbury Plain for munitions practice, and county town Swindon sharing many characteristics with Chernobyl. However, like Felicity Kendal, Wiltshire’s countryside of sweetly bombed churches and shrapnel-dappled hedgerows is found inordinately attractive by people of a certain age, and helps them to forget the bad things in the world like the persistent low-level whine of the jet fighters above.
Spending a lifetime with their brains absorbing the shudder of tank shells has not been without consequence for Wilshire’s residents, who have acquired a reputation for telling tall tales of ghosts, unexplained lights in the sky, and a time when Swindon Town played in the Premiership. Unbowed in the face of sceptical outsiders, they insist that the sights they have seen are not easily explained away and really should be investigated in more depth, right after they’ve finished this drink.
Fun Time – Would you get a place in the bunker?
Decommissioned in 2004, the 35 acre subterranean Cold War city that lies 100 feet beneath Corsham was designed to be Britain’s last roll of the dice in the event of nuclear war. This massive complex was designed to house only 4,000 Government personnel in the event of a nuclear strike, and there were strict guidelines on entry. Are you worth keeping alive?
- Are you the Prime Minister, the Prime Minister’s wife and children, or resemble the Prime Minister enough to get past panicked guards?
- Do you have the keys to get in?
- Have you brought a case of beer, pack of cards or Travel Connect 4?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, come on in! If not, hard lines. On the bright side, you might get superpowers! Keep in touch with us if you do.
- % OF UK POPULATION – 2.3%
- % OF UK POPULATION AFTER NUCLEAR ATTACK − 100%
- CONSPIRACY THEORISTS – 112,007
- DAILY EXPRESS READERS – 112,007
- ETHNICITY – 97% White British, 2% White Irish, 1% White Elephant
- ADMISSION TO BUNKER – Classified
- CURRENT USE OF THE BUNKER – Classified
- SPECULATED CURRENT USE OF THE BUNKER – Storing all the stuff Egypt doesn’t realise we’ve stolen yet
c. 3500 BC – Work on Stonehenge begins. Ten minutes later, builders knock off for the first of 12,361 tea breaks.
1688 – As King James II enters Salisbury he suffers a nosebleed. This is taken to be a premonition of defeat and he retreats in defeat to London. Salisbury goes back to sleep for next three centuries.
1840 – Swindon Junction, the hub of the West Coast railway, is opened by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The line carries over five thousand passengers a day, deserting the town within two weeks.
1931 – Singer and sex symbol Diana Dors is born in Swindon. Christened Diana Fluck, her stage name was changed to Dors after having her name up in lights proved susceptible to inconvenient power cuts.
1944 – Churchill and Eisenhower meet in The Haunch of Venison pub in Salisbury to discuss who should get first dibs on Germany’s peerless collection of looted train sets.
Did You Know?
A cautionary tale of what can happen when you combine suggestible people with squaddies on the piss, Wiltshire has been a hotbed of UFO stories since the 1960s. The most famous example centres on an object, known only as ‘The Thing’, spotted in the night skies in 1964 near Warminster. Numerous sightings and a ‘high-pitched whine’ were reported, with the latter was attributed to the birth of James Blunt at a local hospital.
Wiltshire is the only area of Britain in which Derek Acorah is tolerated.
Although scholars remain divided on precisely what drove Neolithic people to transport 25-ton stones over a hundred miles, it is now generally accepted that it was an early example of Flash Mobbing.
The official Wiltshire county flag accurately depicts the magnetic field of a bustard.
Natural geology has made Wiltshire famous for chalk hill carvings, and combined with the county’s association with dairy farming, the area is said to have given rise to the phrase ‘as different as Lidl-brand cheddar and cheese’.
Wiltshire-born people are sometimes referred to as ‘moonrakers’. This name derives from an old folk story in which smugglers were said to have hidden their contraband goods in a small lake. After going back to pull the barrels out with long sticks, the taxmen appeared. Thinking quickly, the thieves explained themselves by saying they were simply trying to rake in a round cheese lying on the lake’s surface. The taxmen laughed and moved on. Even so, this period remains a high point in HMRC’s revenue collection effciency.
Swindon became twinned with Disneyworld after resident Rebecca Warren produced a slide show comparing the wonderland with her home town, pointing out how they share an extremely basic story, unnecessary roundabout distractions, and overwhelmingly white cast list.