Pot hole repairs uncover Second World War air raid shelter at Bignold Primary School in Norwich

Air raid shelter found under the playground at Bignold Primary School. Headteacher Clare Jones with

Air raid shelter found under the playground at Bignold Primary School. Headteacher Clare Jones with pupils Lola, 9, and Gabriel, 10.Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Workmen who came to fill in a pot hole got more than they bargained for when they uncovered a Second World War bomb shelter hidden under a Norwich primary school car park.

Air raid shelter found under the playground at Bignold Primary School. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Air raid shelter found under the playground at Bignold Primary School. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Contractors discovered the flight of 12 steps leading down to the 1940s structure at Bignold Primary School in Norwich yesterday morning.

One of them rushed to the school office, and told headteacher Clare Jones: 'We have found the Raiders of the Lost Ark!'

She replied: 'Oh.'

She said one teaching assistant had wanted to dress up as Private Pike from Dad's Army and hold a Second World War re-enactment in the shelter.


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The school already knew three air raid shelters had been built for what was then Crooks Place Junior School, but despite the excitement generated by the discovery, no-one is allowed to enter the 75-year-old structure until it is found to be safe.

Mrs Jones said: 'I had to hold them back from wanting to go down and investigate.'

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The discovery was of special interest to one pupil, Gabriel, 10, who wants to be an archeologist when he is older.

He said: 'I'm not sure what is down there, but I would love to know.

'It definitely would have been very scary and shocking to use, but I'm pretty sure the air raid shelters were fit for the children to go down.'

Lola, nine, said: 'It looks really dark and scary in there, but I would like to go in there and have a look at it because it looks fascinating.

'I think the children would have been really terrified and some people would have been petrified because they probably knew it was dark down there, and there would be a lot of people in there.'

Mrs Jones held a special assembly about the discovery this morning, complete with a Power Point presentation showing photos of the shelter, and putting it in the context of the 1942 Baedeker blitz on Norwich.

She will also use the discovery to launch a writing competition for pupils.

The playground is used as a car park at weekends and during holidays, and the workmen were repairing damage when they broke through a concrete slab which had been put across the entrance to the shelter.

The school will now hold discussions about making sure the area is safe.

•Did you use the air raid shelter? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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