New exhibition in former underground bunker

A former Cold War bunker in East Yorkshire is the underground setting for a new exhibition by documentary photographer Lee Karen Stow.

Set to open to the public on March 9, and run through to November, Hidden: Cold War Womenat the former RAF Holmpton underground bunker in East Yorkshire has been timed to coincide with the 30thanniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  It also pre-empts next year’s 75th anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Revealed for the first time in 60 years are the personal stories of a fraction of the thousands of women who served underground on Britain’s frontline of defence from the 1950s, to the 1980s.  They include Senior Aircraftwomen of the Royal Air Force (RAF) who served at former RAF Patrington in the Holmpton underground bunker asradar plottersand switchboard operators, along with female volunteers of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) who served in underground monitoring posts, tasked with recording the direction of a nuclear bomb and its radiation fallout.

Stow spent a year and a half tracking down the women who willingly returned to the bunker and monitoring posts to reflect on the roles and responsibilities they played in this significant period in world history. The work these women did and the memories they took with them, are being shared here for the first time, for their families and for future generations.

Hidden: Cold War Women also features interviews with female survivors of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, and women who survived the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the former Soviet Union. Stow also photographed a few local women who, motivated by these events, mobilised above ground as peace campaigners at anti-nuclear peace protests such as Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp in the 1980s.

A series of events during the Summer months will include: ‘Meet the Cold War veterans; slideshow talks; photography/art workshops inspired by the Cold War and local peace campaigning. Visitors will also have the opportunity to contribute to the weaving of a giant rainbow peace symbol on the base’s perimeter fence.

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The Cold War underground bunker is now a visitor attraction in its own right. Dates when it is open to the public can be found at  Admission prices are Adult £9, Over 65s £8, Under 16s £7, Family (2+2) £28.

[IMAGE: Senior Aircraftwoman (SACW) Carol Oldridge ©LeeKarenStow]