The Drakelow tunnels (formerly, the Drakelow Underground Dispersal Factory) are nestled beneath Kingsford Country Park in Kidderminster, Worcestershire. You can find them in the English Midlands, not too far from Birmingham.
The Drakelow tunnels were dug between 1941 and 1942. They were originally part of the Ministry of Aircraft Shadow Factory Scheme initiative and served Rover Company, a car manufacturing company, during World War II. At the time, Rover built aircraft engines for the Bristol Aeroplane Company.
Sir Alexander Gibb & Partners were contracting to build the “shadow factory”. The cost of the complex was estimated at £285,000 and was anticipated to take just over one year to complete. The underground factory achieved full operations in May 1943, with the final cost surpassing a whopping £1,000,000!
Military Complex Uses
World War II
The concept of this shadow factory for Rover was to share knowledge and machinery between industries during the war, particularly that of automobiles and aircraft. It was an ‘underground factory’ of sorts.
The tunnels were primarily used for manufacturing engines for aircraft. Later, they were used in building tank engines and supply components that were used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) for storage.
The Drakelow tunnels served as a backup facility for Rover during this time, in case their primary premises became another casualty of the war.
The Cold War
Later on, during the 1950s, the Drakelow tunnels were used by the Ministry of Supply for storage, while serving as a warehouse and distribution centre. And, if the situation on the ground really escalated and the UK came under attack, the tunnels were also equipped to be used as a Cold War nuclear bunker.
In the 50s and 60s, the tunnels were repurposed for various defence roles. By 1961, the tunnels became the Regional Seat of the British government, which took over half of the tunnel network. This was one of 13 sub-regional control units in the country.
The space could hold 325 members of staff and consisted of:
- A BBC studio
- A General Post Office (GPO) telephone communications facility
In 1963, the West Midlands Committee 100 hosted a demonstration within a section of the bunker, revealing some of the history of the tunnel labyrinth. The majority of Drakelow was still kept secret from the public at this time. After the Home Defence operations, the tunnels were used as a Sub-Regional Control (in 1963), Sub-Regional Headquarters (in the 1970s), and finally Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ) in 1982.
In the 1980s, the tunnels were upgraded. These renovation works included replacing the previous wooden factory doors with blast doors, installing new electrical equipment, and upgrading the airlocks.
The full extent of the tunnel network and nuclear bunker came to light after Drakelow was fully decommissioned in 1993.
Drakelow Tunnels Museum
After the decommissioning, the tunnels were sold to private owners, who wanted to convert the Drakelow site into commercial and housing properties.
This was contested by the Drakelow Tunnels Preservation Trust and the plans were put on hold. In May 2019, London City Bond suggested transforming the tunnels into a storage and distribution hub for 10,000 tonnes of wine, which would generate 40 full-time jobs. They also intended to upgrade a section of the tunnels to meet museum standards.
However, the Wyre Forest District Council declined these plans in September 2019. After an appeal in November 2020, the redevelopment was approved and commencement was set for January 2021.
The Drakelow Tunnels Preservation Trust has been working tirelessly to convert the former underground military complex back to its former glory. Some sections of the Cold War Museum are open to the public and are accessible through a guided tour.
Visiting the Drakelow Tunnels Museum
- Open daily
- See their Facebook page for guided tour times
- Rated 4.8/5 stars on Facebook; 4.6/5 stars on Google
- “Great place to explore, good value for money, guided tour lasts an hour.” – 2023
The Drakelow Tunnel Ghosts
Now that the history lesson is over, we can get into the real spooky stuff that the tunnels are known for.
During the construction and revamp of the tunnels, at least 6 people are known to have died, making these dark, damp, and desolate tunnels even more mysterious.
It’s believed that during the decommissioning phase, the tunnels were used for satanic worship – opening the metaphorical door to ghoulish entities. The spirits that lurk in the dark are said to be those who died here, all those years ago.
The Drakelow tunnels are often referred to as one of the most haunted places in Britain! Creepy!
Paranormal activity: Oswald
Over the years, visitors and workers have reported haunted happenings. One of the most famous entities is Oswald. He is a mischievous ghost who pulls hair, moves objects, and touches people. He has often been seen throughout the entire tunnel network.
Mediums and paranormal investigators using ghost hunting equipment have also mentioned a demonic spirit – possibly due to those satanic rituals – lurking in the old canteen area. A previous caretaker said that his two dogs used to bark wildly at the corner of one room in the complex, without any logical explanation.
Flying orbs and strange imagery have been caught on investigators’ cameras and a wartime melody can occasionally be heard over the tunnel’s speaker system. The funny (or terrifying) thing is that the complex has been without electricity for decades!
The American TV series Paranormal Lockdown visited the tunnels in 2019.
How long are the Drakelow tunnels?
The Drakelow tunnels extend deep underground, stretching over 3.5 miles (5.6 km)! They cover an area of around 26,500 m2.
What are secret tunnels called?
Secret tunnels are commonly referred to as hidden passages or secret routes; often used for the movement of people or goods. Tunnel networks were used during WWII to escape.
Where can I hunt for ghosts in England?
The Drakelow site certainly is the place if you’re looking for a ghost hunt. And there are definitely eerie entities lurking in its dark, damp, and desolate tunnels.
Whether you’re a believer in ghosts or a sceptic, the chances of encountering Oswald seem pretty high…