For sale: former NATO nuclear bunker, one careful owner, secure, fully operational and available at a knock-down price.
It’s not every day that kind of bizarre offer comes along. It is even more unusual that a company director should be so interested that he makes an offer for it.
But that is exactly what Dominic Hawken, director of web-hosting company AL Digital, did back in 1998, when along with his business associates, decided he needed a large, yet secure home for their business venture.
Having read the advert and having already realised he needed an ultra secure site, it didn’t take long for a deal to be struck.
On seeing the advert, Hawken promptly took himself off to the rural dwelling that is Ash in the heart of Kent, and took in the sights of the 17 acre site. What looks like a mere field for sheep to graze on, is in fact, surrounded by barbed wire, guards, guard dogs and CCTV. A possible clue to those of a curious disposition.
But that is the point of his professional home, the ‘Bunker’, a two-storey building sunk underground designed and built during the Cold War as a RAF physically secure communications centre, its aim is to remain unseen by the public. It has to be one of the most secure non-governmental sites on Earth.
‘It is like no other workplace’, he says matter-of-factly, and certainly the place had an immediate affect on Hawken, as he bought the site for an undisclosed sum, and indeed, will be opening a second site in the near future. ‘This place cost the MoD £3m to dig and build back in the 1950s.
It comes with blast doors weighing nine tonnes each, and is completely over-engineered. Our customers can rest assured,’ says a confident Hawken.
His customers include high street hi-fi chain Richer Sounds, and Hawken and entrepreneur Julian Richer – who features prominently in the UK’s rich lists – are friends. ‘Where people do not wish to advertise they store data with us, Julian advertises this on his company website as part of his self-promotion,’ he adds.
So why would you need to speak to Hawken or enquire about the bunker?
Well, when four smartly dressed young men recently walked into Deutsche Bank’s City office late one afternoon, no one gave them a second glance.
With their immaculate business suits and confident air, they glided past guards, into the very bowels of the investment bank.
It was only when techies at the bank were attempting to fix a systems failure at 11pm that the reality emerged – the gang was part of what police call the ‘men in black’ and they had run off with £1.8m worth of computer equipment. ‘That kind of attack would never happen here. Customers can rest assured their data is safe.’
Now that seems like an understatement.
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