On a cold a blustery January evening a few years ago we found ourselves parking up in suburbia. News had broken that there had been a partial collapse in a local park and a hole had opened up to reveal a series of tunnels. Rumours quickly spread that a forgotten World War II air raid shelter had caused the collapse and that the Council were already onsite to repair the damage and prevent any further access. As both halves of TheTimeChamber were ringing each other to see if we could get over in time, other locals were also ringing around to see who was free to head over and see Carshalton Park Air Raid Shelter.
Prior to World War II, the central government commissioned local authorities to undertake a survey of their area to ascertain if there were premises in shopping, business and other areas where the public were likely to congregate more than seven minutes’ walk from their homes. The result of this led to a series of buried trenches being dug in numerous boroughs throughout the country to provide protection to the local population. Carshalton was no different and set about constructing accommodation for a total of 7000 people in various parks throughout their borough.
|Park Location||No. of people to be accommodated|
|Harold Road (in conjunction with Sutton & Cheam Council)||500|
After the war, many of the shelters across the country were simply bricked up, covered over and forgotten. With their nature and the their true location forgotten, access to an old Air Raid Shelter is not always possible. But from time to time, they do become accessible and we do try and head over to see them (local ones at least). Upon arriving at Carshalton and knowing that others were going to be joining us, we headed off into the park to try and find the access. We found that the workmen had temporarily sealed access by dropping a skip over the collapse. Simple and effective. A little creativity and we found a way down and dropped into the bunker.
The bunker was in a very good condition; there we no graffiti or signs that the local kids had accessed it at all. Light fixtures, wiring, the rotting heaps of benches and other artefacts where still in situ. It wasn’t a huge bunker, so we didn’t spent a great deal of time down there and we decided it was time to climb back out and make a move. The shelter was sealed back up a few days after we had visited, presumably because ITN paid the site a visit and featured it on the local news.