Sunday, 19 October 2008

Some Progress!

Well, the sun came out today, so I went underground. My nephew wanted to earn some pocket money, so I enlisted him to help clear out some of the more managable bits of stuff from the bunker. I hadn't been inside for a few months now, so I wasn't sure what to expect. Flooded? Overrun with spiders? Actually no.... it was nice and dry and relatively bug free.

We removed lots of the bits and pieces. There were lots of these little metal "caps". Anyone any idea what they might have been?

There were also quite a few of the old lamp shades on the floor, only one of which is still hanging.

This is the strange canister that appears to be designed to be worn on someone's back. Plant sprayer or bee fumigator (there's a beehive in the back too remember)?

Here's all the junk we removed....

There was a lot of this alloy-type tubing, which had "porcelain"(?) insulators attached to it? No clue as to what this might have once have belonged to. Anyone any ideas?

All this clearing enabled us to sweep up the floor a bit half way along. The concrete underneath the thick layer of dust and rust particles was smooth and dry.

A few more pictures of the tunnel from today:

I haven't really attacked the front yet. I need to deal with all the tangled barb wire in order to get to the floor underneath, and whilst I could laboriously cut it up into small pieces, I can't help but think that it would be easier to remove it in one tangle once the doors are fully open.

Tunnels for sale in London

The "Kingsway Tunnels" are currently up for sale in London. If you fancy an underground lair, and have around £5 million spare, then these could be for you.

Access to the mile-long system of horizontal and vertical shafts is through unmarked doors in the street on High Holborn, and the site is fully equipped with electricity, water supply and ventilation equipment - making it the perfect place to hole up and hide from 007, though aspiring Blofelds will have to provide their own white cat.

The Public Record Office used the tunnels for a while to store 400 tons of secret documents, before the complex was turned into a "trunk exchange" to connect long distance telephone calls in the days before the subscriber trunk dialling (STD) code.

It was built to hold 8,000 (!!) people during air raids, and in its days as an exchange housed around 80 workers, who enjoyed a canteen and recreation room - complete with snooker table.

More details here:

Monday, 22 September 2008

AVRO Vulcan Bomber

I've been busy at work. Apologies. The bunker has not been progressing. The closest that I've come to wartime arctifacts was the Vulcan Bomber that flew overheard recently. And that was "cold war", and quite a long way away at that.

So no bunker news at the moment. But have some delta wing silhouettes in the meantime.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

1946 Photograph

Well I've now got hold of a photo taken in 1946 of the garden in front of my house, showing the rockface where the tunnel entrance is. It doesn't look like the rockface has been collapsed in the photo, although its also possible that the tunnel entrance may already have been partially covered over. The ground level on the right appears much higher than at the moment, and there seems to be rubble lying on the ground in the background. I've put a photo taken today from where I think is roughly the same vantage point


Its a little disappointing that this is the only photo of my garden (all the others he sent are of next door). Its also a shame that there's nothing in the picture to show that its taken just after the war (abandoned military vehicles perhaps?) frown

However, the good thing is that it looks like there was a solid quarry face immediately behind where the tunnel entrance we've already uncovered comes out, so once I clear the spoil away from the entrance, I'm hoping there's at least a 30 foot high wall of solid rock and I may not have to worry too much about having to build any retaining structure.

1945 aerials again for comparison with the garden shot.....

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Tree Felling

Dave came round this afternoon and we finally spent an hour or so making a little progress. The slope of collapsed rock, which is the next area we're focussing on, now has a load a fir trees growing on it. They're actually fairly tall. Before I'm able to do any more excavating of this area, the trees (or at least the largest shown here below beforehand) will have to go.

The aim is to drop it down accurately between those two shrubs in the foreground without damaging them.  Dave dons the Pistonheads safety helmet (which actually did protect him from a falling pine cone).

And then climbs up the spoil to the base of the trunk.....

Where he started by stripping some of the lower branches.

Before downing tools and refusing to do the chain-sawing. So it was left to me, to make a classic wedge cut at the front of the tree and then the single cut at the back..... 

What happened next though was unexpected comedy. The tree gracefully fell to 45 degrees, stopped and hung there! Rather like the toppled statute of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.  

We then all watched bemused as it sank several more feet in extra slow motion before the trunk finally cracked and it dropped to the ground. Video posted here.

After which Dave went to work, chopped it up, and put it in the boot of his car. 

I did say that the next bit was going to involve "just a little bit" more work, didn't I?

Friday, 15 August 2008

Health and Safety

We've been preparing for the next bit of excavation by getting some "proper kit".


Sunday, 10 August 2008

More 1940s photos soon

This weekend I heard back from the gent whose father purchased the property after the war. He said that he'd had a chance to look back through some old family photos, and that he'd found some dating from 1946, although all but one of them are of the main house (next door). He said that he's put them in the post, so hopefully I'll receive them soon.

He also confirmed that our house burnt to the ground in 1948, although he didn't say how. He said that his father rebuilt it in the same style. That was something of which I was unaware.

Finally, he gave me the location of an apparent cache of old buried bottles in the garden?? Something else to dig for when I can find a spare moment!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Apologies for Inactivity

...I've been on holiday in the United States for the last few weeks.

For any aussies reading this, congratulations on your Holden / Pontiac G8 GT. I took this one as a hire car whilst there and it was a great drive.

I guess I've got some more digging to do now!

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Storage Dimensions?

Believe it or not, I hadn't accurately measured the dimensions of the bunker until today. I'm posting a cross-sectional diagram, together with a scale MX5 / Eunos / Miata in there for the Pistonheads! After all, there is a roadway leading down into it underneath all those rocks !

So, the tunnel itself is 120 inches (10 feet) wide at the entrance (measured between the concrete base walls), tapering in slightly to around 115 inches wide at the rear. Its 96 inches (8 feet) high to the centre of the ceiling arch, and slightly lower at the rear (the floor slopes to the entrance, presumably for drainage).

Lengthwise it is 60 feet (easy accommodation for 4 Miata!).

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Noirmont Point

Well, whilst I'm keen to continue excavations, having spoken to the diggermen, for one reason or another, because of holidays and work commitments, I'm not going to be able to get the heavy machinery back on site until the beginning of August. It's a little dissappointing, but cannot be helped.

In the meantime I've been continuing my research, and it's beginning to become apparent that the area around my house is littered with the remnants of its previous Luftwaffe occupants. I've found that there were at least six other smaller structures like mine in the valley, together with underground and overground armouries, a whole load of above ground workshops and stores, hidden tunnels used as personnel shelters, and makeshift field gun emplacements hidden ominously out of sight in the tree lined hedgerows - guarding the entrance road to the valley. The trouble is that, according to the historians, whilst the Germans were meticulous note-keepers, much of the Luftwaffe paperwork from the Occupation of this Island is unfortunately missing (unlike the Infantry and Marine Korps, about which records seem to abound).

As I have no new pictures or progress from the garden to add today, I thought I'd make a quick visit today to one of the impressive Kriegsmarine Command Bunkers on the coast, on a headland called Noirmont (Black Hill), which overlooks the main port.

Most of the German defences found at Noirmont were part of the Marine Batterie Lothringen, which includes 6 Ständige Flak bunkers, together with an imposing M 132 fire controlpost / Marine Peilstand 1. There are numerous other smaller bunkers including crew shelters and ammunition stores which connect to the open gun emplacements. Many of these buildings have been fastidiously preserved and maintained by the Channel Island Occupation Society.

This is the naval range finder sitting atop the complex, which is itself configured a little like a warship buried into the headland.

Behind this is the entrance, with steps leading down into the multi-levelled complex.

Some of the rooms inside:

One of the batterie flak emplacements with adjacent underground ammunition bunker:-

Another gun emplacement:

And the Watchtower again: