Family find World War II air raid shelter hidden beneath tonnes of rubble in garden

A BRITISH family have discovered an intact World War II air raid shelter hidden beneath tons of rubble in their back garden.

Kelly and Sean Webb had no idea that the shelter – dating back at least 75 years – was there when they hired a mini digger to clear the mass of rocks and weeds.

SWNS:South West News Service

The Anderson Shelter dates back at least 75 years[/caption]

SWNS:South West News Service

The family was renovating the garden at the 1930s detached house when the discovery was made[/caption]

The family, who have lived in the house in Ashford, Kent, for three years, were told by workmen that something unusual had been uncovered.

They watched in amazement as the soil and rubble was lifted away to reveal the Anderson shelter which was unusually encased in concrete.

Mrs Webb, 41, said: “It was exciting to see such a big concrete structure emerge at ground level and to see the steps to the shelter exposed after all the soil was removed.

“It’s a piece of history and it makes you wonder why the corrugated iron shelter was covered in concrete and if it was used by more than one household in the street.

“The shelter was connected to an electricity supply, which was all degraded and even had the old Bakelite switches inside.”

DISCOVERED DURING RENOVATION

Mr and Mrs Webb were renovating the garden at the 1930s detached house when the discovery was made.

Mrs Webb said: “I was expecting to have a nice piece of flat lawn there.”

Now the IT project manager plans to keep the Anderson shelter as a feature for her son Riley, four, and stepson Daniel, 17, to use either as a play den or a teenage hideaway.

She said: “I’m thinking of putting benches in the shelter, but I don’t think I will go as far as getting the electricity restored.

“I’d like to keep it and it can just be landscaped into the garden.”

Mrs Webb said the shelter was a reminder of the constant threat that families lived under during the Second World War.

I was expecting to have a nice piece of flat lawn there

Kelly Webb

She added: “The way we live now you can’t imagine how people used to exist with doodlebugs flying overhead and having to rush into their garden shelters.”

In March 1943, Ashford suffered the worst bombing of any town in Kent.

Ian Sharp, the curator of Ashford Museum, said the town centre was a target for German bombs as Howitzer field guns had been positioned at the town’s railway works.

He said a road near where the Webb family now live had been heavily bombed and the centre of town was devastated on March 24, 1943, during a massive raid that killed 54 people and injured more than 200.

What are Anderson shelters?

Anderson shelters were designed protect people from bomb blasts during World War II.

The shelters were half buried in the ground with soil covering it over the top to camoflage it.

They were made from iron sheets bolted together at the top, with steel plates at either end.

The entrance was protected by a steel shield and an earthen blast wall.

On 25 February 1939, the first Anderson shelter was ereted in Britain in a garden in Islington, London.

Approximately 3.5million Anderson shelters were built either before the war had started or during the conflict.

The shelters were named after Sir John Anderson, the man responsible for preparing Britain to withstand German air raids.

He said: “Most Anderson shelters were put over a hole in the garden that was dug around four feet deep with steps down.

“It was usual for the corrugated roof to be covered in sandbags and soil.”

He added: “If a shelter had concrete around it then it’s possible it may have been used later on as a garden shed.”

SWNS:South West News Service

Kelly Webb and her son Riley with the Anderson style shelter they uncovered[/caption]

In March 1943, Ashford suffered the worst bombing of any town in Kent
SWNS:South West News Service

SWNS:South West News Service

The family, who have lived in the house in Ashford, Kent, were told by workmen that something unusual had been uncovered[/caption]


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