AWDREY's Place in History Revealed
Research has revealed how York turned to a top secret device called AWDREY when it found itself on the front line during the Cold War.
The chilling era of superpower tensions between the West and the Soviet bloc resulted in the building of a semi-submerged nuclear bunker in Acomb, York. Operational until 1991, the building was designated as a scheduled monument eight years ago and is managed by English Heritage as a unique visitor attraction and also a stark reminder of a time when the world faced Armageddon.
More information has recently emerged about its role in the event of nuclear attack. The bunker and its network of outlaying stations were operated by The Royal Observer Corps to report on the direction and yield of atomic explosions and radiation levels if the unthinkable happened. With fears of a pre-emptive attack growing, the military turned to cutting edge technology to help the ROC fulfil its vital role, even when the York bunker was unmanned. The answer was AWDREY – an acronym for "atomic weapons detection recognition and estimate of yield".
Using a sensor mounted on the bunker's roof, linked to displays deep underground, it was designed to measure the time lag in milliseconds (ironically using the Atomic clock) between pulses of light which occur when a nuclear weapon detonates. The gap varies according to the bomb's power, allowing yield and approximate direction of the blast to be computed. Further refinements allowed the bearing and altitude of explosions to be measured at a range of up to 150 miles enabling "ground zero" to be worked out using triangulation methods.
Remarkably, AWDREY remains intact in York – the only bunker in the UK retaining this once hi-tech piece of equipment - adding to the monument's outstanding historical importance. Roger Thomas, an English Heritage historian based in York, commented that "Most people never knew the bunker existed and fewer still had any idea that the city was on the nuclear hit list. AWDREY is a remarkable relic of a very secret war. It's in the nature of these things that we can only really tell the full story many years after."
2009 - 2010 Opening Times
1 April - 1 November: Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays, 10am - 4pm. Thereafter the 1st and 3rd weekends of the month until April 2010.
Adult £ 5.00 / Concession £4.30 / Child £2.50 / EH Members FREE. Groups of 11 or more people get a 15% discount, but EH members, tour guides and coach drivers do not count towards group numbers. 11 or more people: Adult £4.25 / Concession £3.66 / Child £2.13
Pre-booking is not essential but is recommended. For more information on the site please call 01904 646940 or visit York Cold War Bunker