In Dorset, a WWII bunker is transformed into a quirky holiday home

The subterranean stay retains its wartime aesthetic with sleek new additions

During World War II, Dorset was part of the last line of defence against Nazi invasion across the English Channel, with architectural remnants from this perilous time strewn along its Jurassic coastline. More than 75 years later, a former radar station bunker near Ringstead Bay finds new life as an unusual holiday home.

The Grade II-listed military building is one of the best-preserved examples of a Chain Home station in southwest England – a ring of early warning radar stations built around 1941. Dubbed the Transmitter Bunker, the structure was officially decommissioned in 1956, and for more than half a century, it languished – a dank, windowless space covered for 65 years.

RIBA-award-winning British practice Lipton Plant Architects – now part of Corstorphine & Wright – led the station’s radical adaptive reuse, working with structural engineer Symmetries to retain as much of its original features as possible. That means low ceilings and cracked and weathered walls, offset by new additions that make the space more habitable.

The Transmission Block looks over the countryside from a new ‘bomb blast’ window carved into its solid, concrete exterior and opens onto a small patio overlooking the coast. The interior is embedded into the slope of a hill, while the station’s roof is wholly grassed over, hiding it from view.

A stay at the converted bunker starts around £732 for three nights, sleeping four people via a mix of plywood bunk and twin beds. There’s also a fully functioning, though compact, kitchen, bathroom and a woodburning stove for staying warm.

Immediately enclosed by peaceful fields, The Transmission Block will appeal to history enthusiasts and wildlife lovers who can watch birds and bats flying overhead. The shingle shore of Ringstead Bay is close by, as is the South Coast Path – a 630 miles National Trail that runs from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour.

Photography: Will Scott
Photography: Will Scott

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