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Private bunker sales boom amid nuclear war fears

Enquiries about bunkers have soared over the last couple of years, manufacturers say
Enquiries about bunkers have soared over the last couple of years, manufacturers say

Sales of private bunkers are experiencing a boom in Britain as increasing numbers of people fear nuclear war.

Manufacturers of shelters in the UK say they have seen an influx in demand in the past year, and primarily over the past six months, believed to be fuelled by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the Middle East.

“In the last two years, demand has really increased, specifically the last year,” Paul Thompson, whose hobby of building bunkers has evolved into a successful full-time business in the space of a decade, said.

Mr Thompson’s company, UK Nuke Shelters, now gets four to five requests for private bunkers each month.

“We’ve seen a 300 to 400 per cent increase in enquiries in the past couple of years,” he told The Telegraph, adding that preparing for a nuclear disaster is the most common reason for people wanting them installed.

Preppers have long worried about a nuclear armageddon, but mainstream concerns had been in the wane since the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is now once again a blossoming sector with increasing geopolitical tensions among nuclear powers.

A petition was started in 2022 to get Parliament to debate a proposal to “build underground nuclear bunkers with all facilities for the public”, evidencing the growing fears among some Britons.

With just 258 communal shelters, the UK falls behind some Western countries such as Switzerland, which has a total of 360,000 - enough to accommodate its entire population.

“On the other hand, I have some customers who are fearful of some sort of climate event –  hurricanes, tornadoes, heatwaves – and want them installed for that reason,” Mr Thompson said, adding that he also gets several phone calls a month from people looking for advice on how to build their own safety shelters.

Cashing in on fear

While just a handful of companies currently offer private bunkers, the market is expanding with some business owners in the luxury holiday pod industry cashing in on people’s fears.

Matthew Wright, the owner of Shire Pods which manufactures “hobbit-style huts” mainly for holiday accommodation and private saunas, has recently expanded to offer underground bunkers after being inundated with requests.

“In the last six months people have started to get in touch with us asking if we could build underground bunkers for them,” Matthew Wright, the company’s owner, told The Telegraph.

“Since we launched a brochure on the website a few weeks ago, we’ve had hundreds of people get in touch asking for information on bunker-type projects.

“Most people say that after everything that’s happened in Ukraine and being worried about nuclear war is the main reason they’re looking into it.”

According to suppliers, the cost of private bunkers can range anywhere from £10,000 to more than £100,000, with some companies, including Mr Wright’s and Mr Thompson’s, offering fully furnished options with running water and showers, a fitted kitchen and solar panels.

While it may appear to be an expensive investment for a structure one hopes never to actually use, some customers are finding recreational uses for them

Mr Wright even promotes the concept of “multi-use” bunkers on his Shire Pods website, which reads: “Bomb shelters and nuclear bunkers no longer have to be cold dark damp spaces.

“Our bunkers can double up for a variety of uses. What would you use it for – luxury cinema room, bar, games room?”

Mr Thompson added: “People get them for one reason, and then end up using them for another, like for their kids to go down there and play, or if they want to play loud music without disturbing their neighbours.”

He said many customers found respite in their bunkers during the recent UK summer heatwaves, as the shallow ground below the earth remains at a constant 10-16C temperature.