The Wokingham Paper

Bomb shelter unearthed at the bottom of Woodley garden

NORMALLY people find fairies at the bottom of their garden. Or even a compost heap. But a Woodley man has discovered a blast from the past.

Brian Hunt, who lives on Reading Road, has unearthed a Second World War bomb shelter following an investigation into an unusual spot in his garden.

He unearthed the historical relic earlier this month after years of suspecting something peculiar was beneath his lawn – he’s lived there since 1975.

It’s not the only unusual find in his home: he’s previously dug up a Greek urn. But it is the bomb shelter that is attracting attention.

Mr Hunt said: “Over the last 10 years or so I’ve noticed something solid under the grass while gardening.

“Warmer summers meant the spot became more obvious and caused a mossy, lighter patch of grass to appear.”

The curious resident – who took advantage of the lockdown period to investigate the section – added:“I decided to dig up the area of lawn, suspecting to find a wall or patio underneath but was very surprised to find what I did.

“After 10 minutes of digging I uncovered a hole in the roof of the shelter which I was able to look through and soon realised what it was.

“The shelter is roughly 7ft by 9ft and constructed with thick concrete and 8in to 10in iron bars so it’s likely the shelter was a special design rather than the typical Anderson shelters of the era.

“There’s a lot of glass and rubble in the shelter which I imagine was poured through the hole so it’s difficult to make out what else is in there apart from a shelf which I can see.”

Since finding the artefact, Mr Hunt has used title deeds to identify the shelter’s potential owner.

The records show that the previous homeowner, George Cripps, worked as a street mason in the area and may have built the shelter after he bought the property in 1929.

Mr Hunt said: “In the past, I’ve found things in my garden like a concrete shed and a Greek urn which I dug up under the flower beds.

“This, however, is something I never expected to find and by the looks of it required a lot of skill and motive to create.”

And addressing his future plans for the shelter, the Woodley resident added: “I’ve had suggestions from friends about what to do with it. The ideas include turning it into a wine cellar, adding open steps or making a garden feature of it.”

“My favourite idea so far is that I remove the moss from it and surround it with gravel and Mediterranean grasses.”

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