School of Preliminary Education

This from Alan Kettlewell -

The SPE at Basil Hill Barracks near Corsham was a small education unit ran by the RAEC. Its purpose was to give potential army recruits some basic education and give them a flavour of army life. About six Royal Engineers were stationed there acting as training NCOs and guardroom staff. Around the students' education lessons, the RE lads taught several topics including army discipline, basic fieldcraft, weapons training, map reading, drill and so on, a bit like basic training.

An amazing feature of Basil Hill Barracks, which not many people were privvy to, is that underneath its pleasant scenery was an enormous and top secret nuclear fallout bunker. It is called the Burlington Bunker. The area some 200 feet down was practically a small town covering 22 acres. It contained a telephone exchange, shops, accommodation, an aircraft parts factory, a railway station linking to the main London/Bristol mainline, several massive ammo storage bunkers and miles of corridors linked together with an electric transport system. Its purpose was to provide a retreat for the government and other key people to run the country from in the event of hostilities breaking out during the cold war. Its existence was only undisclosed in the 1990s to the amazement of the local population who had no idea it was there.

I was priviledged to have been down there in about 1974 although at the time I had no idea of its importance. For more on this amazing place and some pictures of the underground facility, search the internet for Burlington Bunker, Corsham ...