Cold War Role
For over 40 years the world had been free of global conflict and enjoyed a period of relative peace.
The vigilance shown by the NATO powers, in which Hack Green played its full part, had been effective in deterring the Soviet Union from military expansion. During the 1950s and 60s two developments took place which produced the nuclear world in which we live today: Thermo-nuclear weapons and inter-continental ballistic missiles. The British government took the threat to its people seriously, the Home Secretary the Rt. Hon. Leon Brittan Q.C. M.P. said,
“The first duty of the state is to secure the survival of its citizens, the government that ignores that task has forfeited its claim to the respect of the people and has abandoned the most basic of its responsibilities.”
In order to present a credible civil defence structure, secret plans were drawn up to ensure that should war have broken out the government would survive to lead and reconstruct post war Britain. From the ashes of a thermo-nuclear conflict the UK was split into 11 defence regions, each with a Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ) protected to a high standard against the effects of nuclear weapons.
In 1976 the abandoned site at Hack Green was purchased from the MOD by the Home Office Emergency Planning Division to be converted into a protected seat of government for Home Defence Region 10:2. It was cloaked in considerable secrecy over a five year period. At a cost reputed to be some £32 million, the original Rotor radar bunker was converted into a vast underground complex containing its own generating plant, air conditioning and life support, nuclear fallout filter rooms, communications, emergency water supply and all the support services that would be required to enable the 135 civil servants and military personnel to survive a sustained nuclear attack.
The HQ became operational in 1984, region 10s other bunker at Southport, Lancashire was unsatisfactory and prone to flooding so its duties were transferred to Hack Green, which became responsible for a huge area from Cheshire in the south to Cumbria in the north. The HQ would have been headed by a Regional Commissioner who would have been an appointed civil servant or minister. Under the Emergency Powers Act he would govern his defence region, and neighbouring regions if other RGHQ’s had been destroyed. He would attempt to marshall the remaining resources to put the region back on its feet and prepare for the re-establishment of national government. He was assisted by a network of County War Headquarters and the United Kingdom Warning & Monitoring Organisation.
We have seen how difficult it has been to conceive and implement a successful invasion of the British Isles. With our strong defence it would be equally difficult today, but the threat to mainland Britain is most unlikely to come in the form of an invasion. In the event of World War III the Russians would not need to occupy the British Isles to achieve a military victory. They did however, arm and plan to neutralise Britain. Should that eventuality have occurred Hack Green stood ready yet again to play its part to oversee the survival of Cheshire and the government, post nuclear war.