Liverpool has long been one of Britain’s most important naval centers, but never more so than during the dark days of World War II. Beneath Derby House on Rumford Street, the British constructed a warren of secret underground bunkers for the Royal Navy’s Western Approaches Command. Less well known than the similar Cabinet War Rooms in London, this facility was nearly as critical, assuring the flow of men and matériel into the vulnerable island nation. Today these bunkers are open to the public as the Western Approaches Museum.
The entrance at street level is modest in appearance. Located in the heart of downtown Liverpool near Town Hall, it might be mistaken for a retail establishment. But as you descend the steps into the bunker complex, it quickly becomes evident that you are entering something out of the ordinary. The light is dim and the walls feel close. It smells dank and musty. This place is not for the claustrophobic. You will easily see why those who worked here nicknamed it “the dungeon.”