Yesterday my Mum and I went down to London to visit the Churchill Museum and War Cabinet Rooms in Westminster (it’s rather odd passing the Foreign Office I have to say…).
War Cabinet Rooms were opened a week before the Second World War was declared in 1939, and were used right up until the end of the war in 1945. This space was where Churchill made many crucially important decisions, discussed tactics, and held meetings with his cabinet, sometimes when bombs were going off overhead.
The rooms are situated underneath the Whitehall building just off the main Whitehall Road. It was designed to protect the Prime Minister Winston Churchill and his cabinet, yet it was only emerged in 1941 that it could not withstand a direct hit to the building with a large bomb.
Walking through the rooms holding what looked like a really long mobile phone with some numbers and an earpiece, it was interesting to think that people spent day after day, week after week in this underground area. It wasn’t just a place for Churchill and his cabinet members, there was a bedroom built for his wife, and for many secretaries and war officials who spent time there. A broom cupboard was also made into a private room where Churchill could talk privately with President Roosevelt in America.
Alright, I know I’m a bit strange… I find history interesting. I enjoy being transported back in time to when people who made history lived, and these rooms really did it for me, 70 years ago on the very corridor I was in, people were walking down, discussing important decisions they had to make, to stand up against Hitler.
I admire Churchill’s honesty during the war, which can be seen during the Museum part of the underground rooms. He told the people in his speeches how it really was; he didn’t lie. But he also gave them hope, optimism and the strength to keep fighting, the courage to keep standing up against these moral atrocities that the Nazis were committing.
Part of the Churchill Museum were interaction touch screens, videos, photo albums and audio speeches, but I have to say my favourite part was definitely the timeline. In the style of a long dinner table (double your standard width and probably about ten times the length) the timeline was an interactive version of Churchill’s life. It allowed you to touch the date you wanted to look at, and zoom in to the month, and date of when certain events happened, not just in Churchill’s life, but across the world. This included examples of his speeches and when he enforced new laws, to worldwide events that changed the course of history. The most important of these came with pictures flashing up across the screen. For example, Armistice day features the whole table filling with poppies, and the first bomber plane date featured the shadow of the plane zooming down the room.
A memorable and throughout enjoyable experience overall, made even more wonderful by the bowl of ‘Dig for Victory’ Soup over lunch. I would recommend this to anyone, we all should be the ones to find out and explore our past, as it is a vital part of our present.
‘He who controls the past, controls the present.’ – 1984 by George Orwell.