At the beginning of the Second World War, Britain was far from certain of emerging from the conflict victorious. The outlook grew bleaker, through the days of the Blitz and the Battle of Britain, before it got better.
While ordinary Britons dug themselves in, the government was doing the same thing secretly, in central London. A massive underground nerve centre was created in the labyrinthine cellars of a ministry building called the New Public Offices. Here, hidden from all but the most privileged eyes, was the nerve centre of Britain's war effort, the Cabinet War Rooms.
You may be among the fortunate few already planning to 'go underground' in the War Rooms with one of the several Farnborough exhibitors who are holding private events there this week. It's an experience you won't forget - an insight to the way the war was fought.
The cunningly-concealed site, whose location and purpose were known only to the privileged few (and certainly not to the German high command) operated around the clock every day of the year from the beginning to the end of the Second World War.
The rooms have been kept exactly as they were before the lights were finally extinguished after six years of war and are now one of London's most fascinating attractions.
Once inside, visitors can experience the atmosphere and conditions of those times, witnessing the setting in which British prime minister Winston Churchill had to make crucial decisions during some of the bleakest days of the war. Indeed, he is reported to have set the tone by announcing: "This is the room from which I will direct the war."
A private suite was created for the Churchills. Visitors can see their kitchen and dining room and even Mrs Churchill's bedroom.
This historic site has hosted visits from statesmen all over the world including, in 2001, the American President and the First Lady.
Education and conference facilities and a caf‚ have been opened and, in 2005, following the completion of a £6 million appeal, a major museum illustrating the life of Churchill will open at the venue. The museum will be divided into five sections, each relating to a different period and theme of Churchill's life. Innovative, computer-based technology will provide a year-by-year, month-by-month and, in some cases, day-by-day account of his life.
The Cabinet War Rooms, Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AQ. Open daily. Adults: £7.50, & 020 7930 6961 or visit www.iwm.org.uk
Source: Flight Daily News