An underground bunker decommissioned 67 years ago has come back to life as a quirky holiday home.
Sykes Cottages, which manages the Transmitter Bunker, say the unusual pad, set in a hillside at Ringstead looking over the sea, is already fully booked for the summer.
Where once it would have been kitted out with radar equipment, it now has an open-plan living and dining room, kitchen, a twin bedroom, a bunk bedroom and a shower room.
A far cry from its once spartan wartime facilities, the bunker now has underfloor heating, a smart TV, wifi and modern kitchen appliances including a dishwasher.
But while it has been transformed, nods have been paid to its previous life, with the concrete walls kept bare throughout and exposed pipes and lighting visible.
The old bunker was built in 1941 to warn of Hitler’s bombers in the Second World War. It was one of the first military radar bases to reach operational status in the UK.
The RAF radar base was part of Winston Churchill’s ‘chain home’ early-warning system of bunkers along the south coast used to track the Luftwaffe’s movements.
Later it was repurposed as a rotor station to identify Russian bombers during the Cold War. It was last used in 1956. After it was decommissioned, it was left as a grassy mound hidden from view by overgrown vines and grass.
The architect, Jonathan Plant of London-based firm Corstorphine & Wright, has made it look as if the rock has been blasted to reveal the little holiday home and provide exceptional views over the bay.
He said: “It became clear very quickly, that if we retain as much of the structure and ‘feel’ of the space, we could easily tell the story of the bunker’s incredible place in history in defending the UK during the Second World War.
“It is imperative that when you stay in the bunker, you are aware that you are staying in a bunker and that you are experiencing history.”
Jonathan, was careful to retain as many of its original features as possible, including its original concrete walls, exposed pipes, and lighting, to commemorate its historical significance. Jonathan did, however, decide to add a ‘blast opening’ to introduce natural light into the otherwise subterranean structure rather than a simple cut out to play on the history of the bunker.
Thankfully the bunker never did receive any direct hits from enemy fire to cause such an opening.
The site belongs to dairy farmer The Hon John Russell, 72, whose family have owned the plot for more than 400 years. Work has already started on a second bunker on Mr Russell’s land, which is much bigger but will have a similar look and feel.
The Transmitter Bunker sleeps up to four guests and two well-behaved dogs.
A spokesman for Sykes Cottages said: “You can practically feel the history emanating from every part of the property with original features throughout.
“The renovation has had regard for the fact that the bunker is listed Grade II, with the original concrete walls and other features retained.”
n To book a stay at The Transmitter Bunker, available with Dream Cottages as part of Sykes Holiday Cottages, visit sykescottages.co.uk
Prices start from £702 for two nights.