A friend pointed me in the direction of a wonderful resource yesterday – this list of the 100 most haunted places in the UK. Unusually, it isn’t just a standard list of haunted houses but has been researched with each entry ranked (in reverse order) according to the number of sightings and how long they’ve been going on for. I’ve only scratched the surface so far, but I was intrigued to see the entry at number 93 – Hack Green ‘secret’ nuclear bunker in Cheshire.
Dave and I visited the bunker on the way back from a weekend away last year. It was an unsettling experience. Formerly a World War II air base and then part of the anti-nuclear defences during the Cold War, it now houses a large, fascinating (if you like that sort of thing) and staggeringly well-stocked museum on the site’s history, and nuclear warfare in general.
Fair enough the subject matter alone would make anyone uneasy, with references to the effects of radiation on the human body, how survivors of a nuclear blast would have had to live, and surprisingly graphic pictures of the H-bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The fact that most of the building is underground, dank and poorly lit adds to the overall impact. But from the moment I entered I was deeply uncomfortable, and I’m not sure it was just because I was upset about the displays. There was a really strange, oppressive atmosphere throughout the building which left me feeling ‘haunted’, even though I didn’t see any ghosts. It’s interesting that the article mentions a “general feeling of unease”. I thought it was just me, but apparently not!
Luckily, there were mice. Not real, scurrying mice, but small fuzzy, stuffed and knitted Secret Spy Mice, placed around the exhibits in a trail designed to appeal to children who might otherwise have been distressed by the displays. And let me tell you, those mice saved my life! In every room we came to, I zoned out and simply concentrated on spotting all the mice. Without that, I think I’d have had to turn around and run. As it was, we didn’t stay for lunch, and I was pretty glad to get back out into the fresh air outdoors.
Don’t let me put you off. It’s a brilliant place to visit for anyone interested in the Cold War, the history of the RAF, nuclear warfare – or, presumably, ghosts. But I don’t think I’ll be venturing back…
Photo nicked from the museum’s own, excellent, website.