During the early hours of the morning following our discovery - bruised, bloodied & covered in bites from the army of ants whose nest we had clearly disturbed - a plan started coming together....
.....Project Snakes n Ladders was about to take our exploration to the next level.
Why the name Snakes n Ladders? Well the original entry into was snake-like slither into the passageways, & all of the emergency escape ladders were intact plus it would have made a great game for kids in the '40's after the shelter was made redundant. Shelters had never been given a nickname until now, & also seemed a good way to keep the exact location a secret in order to avoid any vandalism. Following on from this, a few more shelters have been documented in this way, & we have given each their own codename to protect their true identity.
The original plan was postponed after requiring a few changes & it wasn't until 6 weeks later that we finally got our second more in-depth look at this important time capsule. Invitations were sent to gather a small & dedicated team to join us on this most exciting discovery & on the day our original team of 3 was complimented by my Son, fellow Plymouth explorer & blogger Georgie Kirrin, her husband Simon, who kindly supplied much needed backup equipment (including pasties & chocolate!), & Steve Johnson AKA Cyberheritage. This was Steve's only chance of seeing the shelter that eluded him during his years of uncovering relics & we simply had to make it happen as a thankyou for all his help in our own research. Luckily, all went well with access & a simple photo message was sent to interrupt Steve's lunch. That was all the persuasion he needed to turn up 20 minutes later armed with his video camera & upon greeting him, his response was one of awe - the genius plan had worked & it was such an honour for Plymouth's legendary historian to be joining us for this amazing underground excursion!
|Welcome to the underground|
|One of the longer sections of shelter looking toward the toilet cubicles|
|First left passageway led to seating area, second left to the original entrance|
|Further on from last photo looking at the infilled entrance|
|Graffiti from possibly the last person to see the shelter|
|Coke can found below the 1960 graffiti|
|Homemade torch with cloth wrapped a stick|
The earliest piece of graffiti we found was 1939 & the sheer amount of drawings on the walls & artefacts to be found discarded around the passageways was quite phenomenal. Child's toy prams, enamel dishes, buttons, odd shoes, hankies, brass shovels & even a cast iron bedstead littered the floors. The graffiti was literally everywhere to be found, sadly the humidity in the shelter led to a haze like condition & condensation dripped from the walls making most hard to photograph.
|1939 - The earliest piece of graffiti found on the walls|
|Tipperary No.1 Hannons Cottages, Henery Street|
|Pencil sums with condensation on the walls|
|Any takers on guessing this one? Mrs.....|
|One of two child's toy prams slowly decayed through time|
|Cast iron bedstead under a pile of rubble|
|Kia-Ora juice bottle|
|Laceless boot - one of many found discarded but no pairs to be found|
Original Air Raid Precaution posters were to be found morphed into the walls after years of condensation have taken their toll but some of the wording & pictures could still be read to our amazement. Smoking Prohibited, No Dogs Permitted, No Spitting posters, Public Shelter Rules along with tips for long stays in shelters are some of the photos featured below.
|Original WWII ARP posters found on a wall facing one of the original blocked entrances|
|Smoking Strictly Prohibited & Dogs Not Permitted ARP poster|
|WWII health & safety tips poster|
|Clean your teeth|
|Tips to keep warm during shelter visits|
|One of the original emergency escape ladders at the end of one passage|
|Bricked up original entrance, behind which would have been a stairwell|
|Corner section with toilet cubicles in the distance|
|Infill below one of the escape hatches|
There we have it, Plymouth's biggest public air raid shelter to be uncovered in years & we can confirm that this is not under threat of demolition for the foreseeable future. At this point we think a few of you may be asking just how we did it - well you will have to ask our offspring in a few years time to get the full story!