Below the streets of a city lays a vast network of abandoned tunnels and passages. These tunnels were cut through the red sandstone on which the town is built on. This labyrinth of tunnels were deep level air raid shelters. These shelters were able to accommodate 7,000 people during the height of the bombing raids of world war two.
There were three deep level shelters in total, Chestergate in the town centre was the largest and could accommodate 4,500 people. Brinksway lies to the West of the town centre. Dodge hill was the smallest and could accommodate 2000 people.
I explored the Dodge hill network of tunnels and passages.
In Dec 2013:
A couple of 15-year-old’s had wandered into the tunnels around without a torch or phones. They were unable to find their way back out when an exit they hoped was open had been bricked up.
The pair spent three hours shouting for help before a passer-by dialled 999 at around 10.50pm. A total of 20 firefighters and seven emergency vehicles attended the incident.
Because the incident was reported as a potentially complex ‘rope rescue’, three fire engines – including an aerial appliance – and two technical rescue vehicles were called.
Two police cars were also called to the scene and officers, who arrived first, passed a torch through a gap in the bricks and the teenagers were able to find their own way out.
Both youngsters were unharmed and it is believed they followed arrows chalked on walls or the floors into the tunnels as part of a game.
The Chestergate shelters in the town centre have been re-opened as a tourist attraction. The two other shelters were sealed up after the war, Brinksway and Dodge hill remain virtually intact as they were left in 1945.
Work started on the tunnels in 1938 and the first set of shelters was opened on 28 October 1939. The city was first bombed on the 11th of October 1940.
Rachel and Simon as they explored the stairs area they had a strong smell of aftershave. Nobody else was in the tunnels or had been to their knowledge – Infact as they was exploring others was trying to gain entry which they actually failed to do – So where was this smell coming from?
Rachel also had to leave that particular area as it made her feel quite ill – was this due to the high dust levels and smell or was something trying to gain their attention…..?
Check the footage out below for a better look: