THE CABINET WAR ROOMS

From 1939 to 1945, a group of basement offices in Whitehall served as the nerve centre of Britain’s war effort. Known as the Cabinet War Rooms, the complex was occupied by leading government ministers, military strategists and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.

Following the devastation of the First World War, military planners feared up to 200,000 casualties from bombing in the first week of a future war, and plans to evacuate the prime minister, cabinet and essential staff from London were drawn up as early as the 1920s. But concern that Londoners would feel abandoned if the prime minister and government were in a safe place, and issues about the speed of evacuation, led to a search for an emergency shelter in Central London. In June 1938 the New Public Offices building was selected. It was near Parliament, with a strong steel frame and a large basement.

The basement was adapted to provide meeting places for the War Cabinet during air raids and also housed a military information centre based around a ‘Map Room.’ Here, vital information for the King, Prime Minister Churchill and the armed forces was collated. The Cabinet War Rooms became fully operational on 27 August 1939, a week before Britain declared war on Germany.

Churchill’s War Cabinet met here 115 times, most often during the Blitz and the later German V-weapon offensive. The Cabinet War Rooms were in use 24 hours a day until 16 August 1945, when the lights were turned off in the Map Room for the first time in six years.

In 1984 IWM opened the rooms to the public for the first time, and they can be visited today. In 2005 HM the Queen opened the Churchill Museum, which examines the life and work of Winston Churchill.

www.iwm.org.uk

ADDRESS:

Churchill War Rooms
Clive Steps
King Charles Street
London SW1A 2AQ

tel: 020 7930 6961

 

Churchill War Rooms are easiest to reach by tube and bus. Westminster and St. Jame’s Park are the closest tube stations (approximately 5 minutes’ walk). Charing Cross and Victoria rail stations are within 20 minutes’ walk.

By Tube

The following stations are all within fifteen minutes’ walk:

Westminster – Jubilee, Circle and District lines (5 mins)

St. Jame’s Park – Circle and District lines (7 mins)

Charing Cross – Northern and Bakerloo (11 mins)

Embankment - Northern and Bakerloo, Circle and District lines (13 mins)

*All timings are approximate

By Bus

Several bus routes running alongside the Parliament Street, including routes: 3, 11, 12, 24, 53, 87, 88, 159 and 453.

By Train

The nearest main line railway station is London Charing Cross, approximately twelve minutes’ walk from the War Rooms.

London Victoria is approximately twenty minutes’ walk.

By Road

Cabinet War Rooms are 0.4 miles from the A4 and 1.7 miles from A3.

Due to space restrictions, there is no parking on-site. The nearest underground car park is located just off Trafalgar Square (Spring Gardens, SW1A 2TS – 0.4 miles).

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