No sign for war bunker site

Alistair McCann pictured for a story in the Portadown Times when the bunker first opened.
Alistair McCann pictured for a story in the Portadown Times when the bunker first opened.

A Cold War fanatic who has established his own museum in a bunker outside Portadown says he is disappointed that the council is unable to fund an interpretive board.

Alistair McCann had wanted to erect the information board at the entrance to the bunker on the Derrylettiff Road.

The bunker is one of 58 monitoring posts built by the Government across Northern Ireland nearly 60 years ago. They were to be bases for volunteer members of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) to monitor the effects of any nuclear attack from Russia, and help any survivors.

Since the Lurgan man bought the bunker seven years ago, he has kitted it out with apparatus similar to what would have been inside the post in the mid-1950s and every year tries to add something new.

He reckons he has also hosted around 2,000 people at his open days, which he holds about four times a year. The most recent one was just last Saturday when a family from Dublin were among those who turned up.

He said, “I had basically wanted a board with some information and a picture on it. I have already had the artwork done which is the most expensive part.

“The problem is that I can’t get any grants because I am not a group - I am just a guy with a paintbrush.

“It’s a shame because I feel that as a borough we have so much more to offer history-wise. Nothing new is ever brought to the table.

“To be honest, Craigavon Museum Services and Councillor Darryn Causby have always been really supportive. There must be some reason why the council can’t fund it.”

Added Alistair, “Since I got the news I have been contacted by a couple of people saying they will help with funding, so I am hoping to get it off the ground somehow.”

ABC Council said, “Council has been delighted to support this fantastic project over the years and has worked very closely with Mr McCann to assist in a number of ways.

“However, to fund an interpretive board, Mr McCann needed to have charitable status which is why council was unable to provide funding. If Mr McCann applies for and receives charitable status, council will be happy to consider an application for funding.”

The bunker will next open to the public on Saturday, September 10 as part of the European Heritage Open Day. To book, email: info@nibunker.co.uk.