Watch as we take you inside Liverpool wartime HQ, Western Approaches as it gets set to re-open
After being left to gather dust for decades, a Liverpool wartime gem, Western Approaches is being uncovered, revamped and reopened to public this Autumn.
North West based social enterprise, Big Heritage have been handed the keys to Western Approaches, one of the city’s hidden treasures and is planning an incredible renovation project to bring the former visitor attraction back to life.
Having broken the locks on forgotten rooms and uncovered a trove of WWII memorabilia, Big Heritage aim to transform this former secret underground HQ, used to mastermind the Battle of the Atlantic, into an immersive and interactive attraction that will benefit not only history lovers but also those with military interests, school groups, families and tourists alike.
Watch above as our cameras go down into the depths of Western Approaches ahead of its make over and find out about the launch event planned for October.
We spoke to Big Heritage founder, Dean Paton to find out how the project came about and what we can expect when phase one launches later this month. Over the next six weeks, heritage innovators Big Heritage will be restoring a labrynth of rooms within the underground bunker HQ and recreating an entire underground 1940s street, complete with stocked sweet shop and pub, community classroom facility, and a range of interactive exhibits and attractions.
Here’s 5 things you need to know about the brand new Western Approaches……
1 – Famous Faces
Western Approaches welcomed many a famous face during the Battle of the Atlantic. Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Prince Phillip both visited the wartime bunker and Admiral Sir Max Horton and Captain Johnny Walker, who sank more U-Boats that any other Allied commander called the Western Approaches home during the war.
2 – Girl Power
Western Approaches HQ, which was also known as the Citadel or the Fortress due to its reinforced concrete protection – was staffed predominantly by WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service), known affectionately as “Wrens” and WAAFS (members of the Women’s Auxillary Air Force).
3 – What Lies Beneath
Dust-covered artefacts and archives are being discovered daily during the renovation of the bomb-proof and gas proof building, which has a seven-foot roof, three feet deep walls and hundreds of rooms covering more than 30,000 square feet. The team have found a number of previously forgotten rooms, and unearthed a few exciting finds along the way. It’s a treasure trove of World War II memories archived and stored for decades. What’s exciting is that much of this stuff hasn’t even been seen before by the public!
4 – Hands on History
Gone are the days of look but don’t touch! At Western Approaches visitors will be encouraged to get hands on with original artefacts, have a go at role play in the real life wartime street and enjoy the ‘Anti Museum’ approach to learning. Fancy a go at being a 40’s telephonist? Can you decipher Morse Code? Want to plot the route of the fleet, deep in the Atlantic? You’re going to love the immersive experience of Western Approaches.
5 – Full Steam Ahead
The renovations are well under way at Western Approaches and Dan and the Big Heritage team plan to unveil phase one of the brand new museum during October Half Term. With more rooms to explore and countless artefacts still to uncover, the full revamp is expected to be finished by mid 2018. Will you be one of the first to see this phenomenal Second World War bunker in all its glory.
To find out more about Western Approaches and the launch event later this October, head to www.westernapproaches.org.uk