Sunday 24 September 2017

'Lost' air raid shelter uncovered

An air raid shelter discovered in Carshalton Park, south London (Sutton Council/PA)
An air raid shelter discovered in Carshalton Park, south London (Sutton Council/PA)

A "lost" air raid shelter which protected hundreds of people from German bombs during the Second World War has been uncovered.

The discovery was made by council workers after a hole appeared in the ground in Carshalton Park in south London.

Investigations found that the hole was an escape hatch leading from the buried bomb shelter. It is believed that the shelter consisted of a rectangle of four corridors, approximately 5ft (1.5m) across, which would have housed up to 300 people sitting on wooden benches.

Sutton Council has launched an appeal for information from any residents who may remember when the shelter was open.

Councillor Graham Tope, executive member for community safety, leisure and libraries, said: "It's potentially a significant find which could shed some fresh light on wartime Britain.

"We understand the Government of the day ordered it to be built for people who couldn't afford an Anderson shelter in their garden or who didn't have a garden."

Mr Tope added: "We would love to hear from residents who know more about it - or who even took shelter in it during a raid."

German Luftwaffe bombers hit Carshalton a number of times during the war, and it also suffered a number of V1 rocket strikes. Air shelters of this type were typically made from concrete slabs. The main entrance steps would take a zigzag form to prevent debris being blown into the safe area when bombs fell.

It is believed that the rediscovered shelter is in good condition and officials now plan to excavate it further. The area has now been cordoned off ahead of excavation work.

An exhibition about the shelter is planned at the nearby Honeywood Museum, which is due to reopen later this year following major refurbishment.

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