WATCH: The secret Second World War bunker below a quiet suburban street
PUBLISHED: 09:03 12 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:06 13 January 2019
Copyright: Archant 2019
You wouldn’t know it from walking past, but below the front garden of a Norwich house, is a secret concrete bunker and a clue to the street’s history.
Sonja Gaffer, 52, has lived in her home, in Waldemar Avenue, Hellesdon, since 1985, but her family’s connections to the house and its own history go back a lot further.
Ms Gaffer’s grandfather - Jack Platten - moved to the house, which was built in 1928, from Eccles in 1946, when he was employed by the construction company, Bush Builders.
At the time the property was owned by the Bush Builders and still housed 16 of the business’ workshops and an air-raid shelter for the company’s employees.
Today, the workshops have long gone and the formerly empty land around the house has been filled with houses but the concrete 10ft by 10ft air-raid shelter submerged beneath the front garden remains.
Ms Gaffer, who works as a dog-groomer, said that while her family didn’t know if the shelter had been used during the war, her grandfather had recalled seeing the skies about Norwich light up during the war.
“My grandfather talked about the raids, they lived in Eccles at the time, but they saw the raids over the city.”
Currently lying unused, Ms Gaffer, said over the years her family had tried to make use of the bunker but its conditions had made it difficult: “It’s quite a small room, we’ve tried to grow mushrooms down there but it’s too cold, tried to use it as a wine cellar and it’s been used as a car pit.
“I don’t think any of my neighbours know it’s there, I think originally it came out of the ground so you could see it,
“I’ve probably been down there about four times in 30 years,” she said.
Sharing pictures of the shelter on social media, Ms Gaffer said that when people did find out the bunker was there they were keen to discover its history: “I think a lot of people just like it for the nostalgia,” she said.
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