Back to the Future: taking a look at our underground datacentre

Estimated to date back as far as the 1960s, the first datacentre can be traced back to the initial development of computers for commercial use, with the first appearing in New York for the use of IBM and American Airlines.

11 January 2018

Of course when datacentres are mentioned, the common picture you paint is a never-ending line of humming servers and flashing lights. Whilst this is true, GCI’s datacentre offers much more than this in the form of our Smartbunker – a military-grade, bulletproof and underground datacentre.

Hidden somewhere in the Lincolnshire countryside lurks GCI’s best-kept secret, our Smartbunker; an underground datacentre, where the latest of its many upgrades will see customers benefit from faster replication and Disaster Recovery. Acquired by GCI in 2011, the Smartbunker was the location of RAF Skendleby Chain Home Low radar station, with a 200-foot wooden mast on the top of a nearby man-made hillock that operated during the Second World War between 1941 and 1945. In 1950 the site was developed further by the RAF, with the addition of a two-storey underground facility excavated to house a ROTOR ground control intercept station that operated during the Cold War.

The RAF handed over the site during the late 1960s and it became a civil defence regional headquarters that controlled Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. Redesignated as Regional Government HQ 3.1 in the 1980s and with an additional underground floor added, the only above-ground structures are four ventilators on the mound together with a radio mast.

Interesting fact alert: in 2008 the UK was hit by its largest earthquake in 25 years, measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale and felt from Northern Ireland to Edinburgh. Our Smartbunker was just 30 miles from the epicentre of the quake, yet was unaffected. With 3 metres thick reinforced walls and a biometric image capture system which logs every single visitor, it really is the perfect location for our ISO-certified datacentre. 67 years on, it still contains an untouched radio studio, canteen, dormitories, and even the original decontamination showers to preserve its historical qualities. Throughout our six-year ownership of the bunker we have invested heavily to continue to enable better results for our customers, recently upgrading the UPS, WAN connectivity and LAN to ultimately deliver increased speed, agility and resilience. Additionally, the Smartbunker is certified to ISO9001, ISO14001 and ISO27001 standards.

Get in touch with us at to learn more about how GCI and our Smartbunker can keep your businesses data secure.

James Bradford
Datacentre Operations Manager

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