YORK was on a secret list of Cold War nuclear targets in the 1970s, according to documents released by the National Archives.

The city featured on a list of likely Russian targets drawn up by the UK Government because it was considered a centre of government.

Radar stations on the North Yorkshire coast and the RAF base near Catterick also featured on the list, which was agreed by military commanders, the intelligence services, and the Cabinet Office.

According to former City of York councillor Steve Galloway, who was first elected in 1973, York's position as a possible target was widely known in the city, although never formally discussed.

"York was a centre of communications. Most of the telephone cables were routed through York and the Russians realised that.

"We have the railways as well, so if you sever those two you could bring the whole country to the halt."

He added: "To the best of my knowledge, there was no underground secure seat of government here.

"I have no recollection of the council ever formally discussing it, but they wouldn't have because it was supposed to be confidential.

"In those days nuclear war was thought about a lot, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out that York could have been a target."

But even though plans at the time were for the Government to scatter in the event of a nuclear attack, Mr Galloway does not believe York would have been the location of a Government centre.

According to a report in the Guardian, the list of "probable nuclear targets in the United Kingdom" was sent to defence chiefs in May 1972, and included 38 towns, cities and centres of government - including Leeds, Hull and York - 37 UK and US air bases, 25 military control, radar and communication bases, and six naval bases.

It said it was on a comprehensive list of targets likely to be attacked, and records show intelligence chiefs believed the Soviet Union would launch an attack on Britain with 150 land based missiles, plus an unknown number of submarine missiles.