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Report - Deepdene - World War II Railway Traffic Control Bunker, Surrey - March 2014

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by The_Raw, Apr 19, 2014.

  1. The_Raw

    The_Raw 28DL Regular User
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    The Visit

    I visited with Sentinel who had an excellent knowledge of this site having been a few times already. I wasn't expecting much but was actually pretty blown away, it was my first time exploring such a place and I think I may have developed a bug for seeking out many more. The original communications switchboard is still down there as well as various other bits and the bunker is split into various different sections. The recently landscaped area around the original cobbled entrances adds a fascinating insight into what the place once looked like from outside. There are sets of triangular stone blocks called 'dragon's teeth' once used to deter tanks from approaching the bunker placed strategically around the site to remind you this was wartime. We explored all the woodland surrounding the bunker convinced that there might be more stuff hidden out there and a couple of hundred metres away we found a room built into the hillside which looked like it may have been a small chapel perhaps. It now has inverted crosses and pentagrams inside so it looks like the devil worshippers have been having a hoedown in there recently, I'd love to know what it is if anyone knows. Anyway onto the history of the place which is probably more interesting than anywhere I've reported on before. I may have stolen Ojay's idea of nicking a few historical shots from t'interweb to show what it used to look like so cheers for that, definitely makes for a more interesting report as far as I'm concerned.

    The History

    When the Southern Railway took over Deepdene House (also known as the Deepdene Hotel) for its wartime Headquarters it discovered that there were natural caves in the grounds. These caves had been acknowledged 300 years before in the diaries of John Evelyn. Because of the natural protection afforded by the location of the caves they were eminently suitable for the development of a bunker to house both the sites switchboard and the Traffic Control. The lawn between the caves and the house was used as a site for the 99foot mast supporting aerials of the emergency radio. The bunker was constructed within the caves which were enlarged to house the 30 staff and once complete their emergency headquarters with office staff was moved there from Waterloo.

    Deepdene House
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    The network of tunnels included a Control Room, meeting room, 3-position switchboard, battery room, main distribution frame (MDF)/maintainers room, a bedroom for the night officer and an air plant and toilet facilities. A 60-foot vertical shaft at the rear of the complex provided an air inlet and emergency exit. A 4 foot thick concrete slab covered the complex but no protection was provided against a ‘near miss’. The Southern Railway General Manager Eustace Missenden lived nearby and had a switchboard extension in his house. During the air raids he spent many nights there with his wife and it is reputed that the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill was a visitor. The bunker consisted of a series of tunnels partly natural driven into the steep hillside to the rear of the former hotel. There were three entrances plus a fourth emergency exit accessed from the hillside 50 feet above via a spiral staircase. Even after the war the exchange remained in use and one visitor in the 1960's remembers three operators and he noticed one of the side tunnels still contained bunk beds.

    Night Officer's Room
    [​IMG]

    British Railways left Deepdene in the mid 1960's and the house was demolished in 1969 with a modern office block being built on the site; this is now the Headquarters of Kuoni Travel. For many years the tunnels lay forgotten in the bushes to the rear of the office block but in 1997 local children started a small fire just inside one of the entrance tunnels and when the fire brigade came to extinguish the it they found the whole network was heavily contaminated with asbestos, so much so that they had to dispose of all their clothes after the incident. As a result of this information, Kuoni commissioned a survey of the tunnels by Redhill Analysts who confirmed that most of the complex and two of the small surface buildings were heavily contaminated with both white asbestos (Chrysotile) and blue asbestos (Crocidolite). Shortly afterwards all four entrances, and the contaminated surface buildings were sealed. In June 1999 Subterranea Britannica approached Kuoni for permission to break into the tunnels to carry out a photographic survey and although English Heritage had previously been turned down permission was granted on the understanding that the entrance was repaired the same day and those people entering the tunnels signed a relevant disclaimer. The bunker has since been left behind and will likely remain under the ground for years to come.

    The Pics:

    The original entrances
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    Not for the faint-hearted this staircase....
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    Before and after shots
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    The original traffic control switchboard
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    I'm not a fan of eight legged freaks and there are many on the way down that sketchy staircase.... :eek:
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    Emergency exit
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    The dragon's teeth
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    The room built into the hillside with signs of devil worship inside....
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    More dragon's teeth and probably my favourite shot from the day....
    [​IMG]

    More shots can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/74870643@N02/sets/72157644074503713/
    Hope you enjoyed looking you happy bunch :thumb
     
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  2. soylent green

    soylent green 28DL Regular User
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    Always good to see this! Great report T R :)
     
  3. Gungebucket

    Gungebucket 28DL Full Member
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    I live in Cornwall now but am originally from Dorking (Goodwyns) As kids we heard stories that there was a place worth checking out (more as something to do rather than exploring but the seed was sown even then) behind Kuoni. Never got round to it tho, shame now I see these pictures!!
    Also heard of some underground areas relatively nearby to this site but never knew any more. I'll ask around a few old relatives still from up there and if I get anything worth chasing will put it on the 'leads' section.

    Great report!
     
  4. The Franconian

    The Franconian 28DL Regular User
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    This looks like a very interesting place with these original relicts and you bring here some very good shots of it.
    I like them all, the inside shots, but especially also the both last.
    I hope this place will be kept a while in this sound state and not be destroyed by building works or idiots.
    thank you for that report
     
  5. wellingtonian

    wellingtonian Subterráneo
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    Mate, that's an excellent report. Very interesting and captured beautifully :thumb
     
  6. sentinel

    sentinel 28DL Regular User
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    Cracking report mate..No need to post mine as I think you have nailed the essence of this place :Not Worthy..Top marks again
     
  7. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    Nice ones matey :)

    As i commented re your Flickr the other day very impressive site and output from you again. Sounds like you need a deco-unit to explore around there :eek:

    More impressive is you managed to post it today !!!!!!:thumb
     
  8. Xan_Asmodi

    Xan_Asmodi Cave Monster
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    Nice report, dude!

    This

    looks very similar this.

     
  9. REEF

    REEF Getthegirlkillthebaddies
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    Top work mate and cracking shots.

    I'm tempted to pop back up there.
     
  10. The_Raw

    The_Raw 28DL Regular User
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    Loving all those comments guys, thanks very much! We are a happy bunch after all :)
     
  11. bhg

    bhg In Search of Lost Time
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    Some great shots TR! Never get bored of this place..
     
  12. The_Raw

    The_Raw 28DL Regular User
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    Thanks BHG, you changed your name!
     
  13. Marsden1002

    Marsden1002 Love it!
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    Some good photos there and looks like a good explore!
     
  14. norfolkexplorer

    norfolkexplorer av u seen my marbels
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    Nice work
     
  15. Miss Mayhem

    Miss Mayhem 28DL Regular User
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    Cracking stuff it's so interesting ,
    I'm loving that spiral staircase including the spider :thumb
     
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