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Long-lost air raid shelter found by London leak detectives
of the “best-preserved” airraid shelters
ever found has been uncovered by Thames Water during its work to tackle leaks
Engineers made the incredible discovery at the bottom of a
residential street next to the A4 in Hammersmith while installing trunk main
The reinforced concrete bunker – seven metres long and two metres
wide – would have been big and strong enough to protect several families from
the Luftwaffe’s bombing raids
during World War II in the early 1940s.
Sealed up and forgotten for more than 75 years, it was completely
dry and free from rubble. At one end was a concrete staircase, with an escape
hatch at the other. A huge metal door that once provided an extra level of
protection had been taken off its hinges and propped up against a wall, which
had ‘Marble Arch’ scratched into the surface.
Thames Water’s Dave Axon said finding the shelter at the bottom of
Standish Road was “a complete surprise”. He added: “Nobody could believe the
condition of it. Normally they’re full of water, rubble or rubbish, or been
vandalised, but an archaeologist said this was like opening the door into a
brand new one.
“It’s clearly done its job very well, and probably saved hundreds
of lives during the war, but we can only imagine the terror that people must
have felt as they huddled inside in the middle of the night as bombs dropped
all around them.”
Water is currently spending £1 million a day finding and fixing leaks across
London and the Thames Valley. The discovery was made while digging down onto
the reinforced concrete roof, one metre deep, while attempting to install
leak-detection equipment on a 30-inch trunk main.
Patrick Fitzgerald, a Thames Water engineer, said: “We thought it
might have been a bit of old road – but turns out it was the roof of the
shelter. We couldn’t believe how well it was built, and how dry it was. It was
exciting to find it because nobody even knew it was there. It wasn’t on any
maps or plans. We must have been the first people down there for more than 75
It’s possible the shelter might have belonged to Beavor House, a
large property that once stood in nearby St Peter’s Road, or the Metropolitan
Water Board which ran Hammersmith Pumping Station opposite.
shelter has now been sealed back up on the advice of Greater London Archaeology
Advisory Service (GLAAS), part of Historic England’s regulatory body, and the
location marked so it can be preserved for future generations.