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Thursday, October 22, 2009

St John's School Shelters, Redhill

During World War 2 Air Raid Shelters were constructed in many schools. The style, and quality of construction differed greatly. Some were simple lean-to buildings built against walls or existing structures, others were more elaborate underground shelters, often built below the playground or in the 'cut and cover' style in a spare piece of land. The two shelters at St. John's School in Redhill are of the 'cut and cover style': the earth was excavated, the concrete structure formed and then covered with earth. One shelter (the larger of the two) was designated for the girls and the smaller shelter was for the boys. Interestingly, the boys shelter was decorated with extensive murals during the war, which were reported on the Pathé newsreels at the time, and still remain to this day.

These tunnels are generally closed to the public, but sometimes opened on Heritage Open Days.

St John's School

Entrance to the Girls' shelter

A typical section of the shelter, with some of the benches

Recess for toilets

Another tunnel section, numbers can be seen on the walls

Emergency exit
Sink still remaining

Another section of the tunnel
Entrance to the Boys' Shelter

Tunnel section

The only remaining light!

Robin Hood mural

Another mural

Another tunnel section

Unfinished section, although pencilled squares can be seen

Click below for a Pathé Newsreel of the boys painting their shelter:


Ancient One said...

When I lived in Redhill at the Philanthropic school, we used to go down into town and on the one way system towards Reigate past some shops was some waste ground and a very deep bunker that ended up filled with concrete so it could be built on, at least three levels and lots of flooding and became the haunt of drunks and glue sniffers.

Anyone know what this one was?

Barrie D Davey said...

My first year at St Johns was 1945 just as the war was coming to a close. I can just remember the shelters.
I can also remember before I went to St Johns but in the same area, the sky's filled with "Window" "Chaff" or is it "Windows" as there was lots of the stuff.

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Anonymous said...

My friends and I managed to find our way into the boys shelter back in about1972 and I remember seeing the murals by torchlight. Went to the school until age 9/10; many happy memories!

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