The Drakelow Tunnels formed one of the many underground factories established in Europe during the Second War to avoid attack by bombers. It was excavated in the soft sandstone of the Severn Valley north of Kidderminster in an area where there are many remains of cave dwellings some of which were occupied into the early twentieth century. Members of the public can now visit the tunnels on open days held every three months, and groups can book private tours. The tunnels are managed by a private company.
Construction of a secret underground factory for the Rover Car Company of Solihull near Birmingham began in 1941, and the first machine tools were installed in November 1942. The factory machined parts for aero engines, and was in full production by May 1943. Some manufacturing continued after the end of the Second World War, but the complex was principally used for storage in the early and mid-1950s.
Towards the end of the decade preparations began for transforming the complex into a secure seat of government in the event of nuclear war and in 1961 it was designated as Regional Seat of Government No 9, one of 12 across the UK. Its existence was exposed in 1963 by the West Midlands Committee of 100 peace group. It was upgraded as Regional Government HQ 92 in 1980 and there were provisions for it to be staffed by 325 people. In 1993 after the end of the Cold War it was deemed surplus to requirements, and the Drakelow Tunnels Preservation Trust was set up to interpret the tunnels as a museum of the Cold War.
Tours cover only about a quarter of the site but include all aspects of the complex, both the Rover Shadow Factory and the regional seats of government. In 2013 it was discovered that part of the tunnels had been used illegally for growing cannabis.