reminder of Cold 
War age

IT WAS the moment which ultimately defined the 20th century and led to a Cold War between global superpowers that brought the world to the brink of mass-destruction.

Artist Michael Mulvihill, in the Operations Room.
Artist Michael Mulvihill, in the Operations Room.

Yesterday marked 70 years since the detonation of the first atomic bomb, and Yorkshire’s very own monument to the nuclear threat is acting as a centrepiece for the landmark anniversary.

One of English Heritage’s most unusual sites, a Cold War bunker in York, is marking the date with a series of films as well as an exhibition by the highly acclaimed artist Michael Mulvihill.

The exhibition, Standby for the New Stone Age, investigates the geopolitical structure that drove the nuclear threat during the Cold War.

The project has involved investigating spaces operated by the Royal Observer Corps such as the numerous underground posts spread across the UK and the ROC20 Group York control bunker.

Mr Mulvihill, Leverhulme artist in residence, uses diverse mediums for his artworks, which will be displayed among the artefacts, which link York’s Cold War bunker to the global conflicts and politics of the atomic age.

Mr Mulvihill said: “I had vivid memories of the tangibility of nuclear war during the 1980s but the impetus to make sense of the irrationality of nuclear war did not occur until the inauguration of President George W Bush in January 2001.

“Until this time the threat of nuclear war had vanished with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

“The works presented in this exhibition are an attempt to determine the geopolitical structures that have grown since the Trinity nuclear test and the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 70 years ago.”

July 16, 1945, saw the United States Army conduct the first successful test of a nuclear weapon at Los Alamos in the USA.

Codenamed Trinity, the 20 kiloton explosion was the outcome of the Manhattan Project, a joint effort by British, American and Canadian scientists and researchers

Fearing that the Japanese would not surrender until millions of Allied lives had been lost, on August 6, 1945, a 16 kiloton bomb nicknamed Little Boy was dropped on the city of Hiroshima.

Three days later another bomb, Fat Man, was dropped on Nagasaki. Within four months, around 200,000 people had died, half within 24 hours of the bombing and half through the frightening effects of radiation sickness.

The Japanese surrendered on August 15, 1945, leading to the end of World War II.

But the Trinity test did not just mark the start of what would be the end of the conflict. It also heralded in the nuclear era, the Cold War, and the chilling prospect of global destruction.

As part of this process, scores of bunkers were built over the years, including the York Cold War Bunker.

A series of films is also being shown to mark the anniversary including Shadow Makers which was screened yesterday, Hiroshima on August 6, Barefoot Gen on August 15, and Day After Trinity on September 19. Tickets can be purchased on 0870 333 1183. Standby for the Stone Age runs from today until August 9 and can be viewed as part of a public tour of the site.