Mistley's secret bunker is to close.

Two main reasons have been given for the tourist attraction being shut - a seven-fold increase in ground rent four years ago and the loss of new income following opposition to a mobile phone mast.

Hotline - Dr James Fox in the Mistley bunker

Dr James Fox, secretary of the Bunker Preservation Trust, said: "The trust will lose in the region of £12,000 a year.

"As the musuem is dependent upon its own income, the trustees have decided to close at the end of 2002."

Dr Fox revealed the trust had received an offer for the entire collection of wartime memorabilia.

He said: "Another collection is hoping to buy it lock, stock and barrel."

The former anti-aircraft control centre was built in 1951. It was later earmarked as an emergency centre in case of nuclear attack, but it shut with the ending of the Cold War and stood empty for three years.

It became a museum in 1996. It has been open to visitors this year since January 5.

But it was put up for sale two days later and is due to close to visitors after October 27.

A spokeswoman for Essex County Council's property services department confirmed it had a long lease agreement with the Bunker Trust but said details could not be discussed publicly. She said a meeting was being held with the trust next Wednesday.

Published Tuesday January 15, 2002