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Report - Norwich, Norfolk Central air raid shelter. June 2015

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by norfolkexplorer, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. norfolkexplorer

    norfolkexplorer av u seen my marbels
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    This report may be a bit boring for some, but other who like to see a bit of the different stuff you will be nicely pleased.
    The tunnels of Norwich are a well documented thing, so much so that everybody in the city knows about the usual 2 that have been done to death.
    So myself and my mates have always been busy looking around the city for months and months, lifting drain covers all over the place, looking in woodland and chasing up all kinds of stories and potential leeds,reading online blogs about this that and the other, and a few months ago I came across an article written saying about the norwich central air raid shelter. Well fast forward a month later and knowing a shelter or tunnel was located in a general area and a photo of a celebrity popping up on her instagram climbing down a manhole, I knew exactly where to go looking, but we checked out loads of other bits and pieces around the site as well as we wanted to eliminate anything else, as Norwich is supposed to be made on top of a mass of tunnels.
    Once we got inside we then saw just how big the site place was. I would say that the overall distance the tunnels spanned over would have been approx 300 meters and had around 6 toilet blocks in them, so all in they would have been able to accommodate a lot of people. we found 2 entrances that have since been covered up and paved over, so people every day will walk all over it none the wiser to the tunnel network they were walking all over. Some 30 minutes later, rather hot as it was very warm down there we popped our heads back up to ground level very happy with starting to see some of the results of relentless searching.
    Now to locate the next two I have come accross this week.

    History
    Being the fact this place is not well documented at all I thought I would give a bit of history on some of the Raids that happened on Norwich.
    The Baedeker raids are the name that everybody associates with raids in the area, and here is some text that I have taken from the website Culture 24:

    Even though Norwich today may seem like an untouched and picturesque city tucked away in the middle of rural Norfolk, it was not spared from the tragic events of the Second World War (1939-1945).

    Throughout the war the city of Norwich suffered many air attacks, including nuisance raids when single aeroplanes machine-gunned people as they left work. Approximately 340 people were killed during attacks on Norwich during World War Two and over 1,000 people were injured.

    There were some strategic objectives for the Luftwaffe - most notably the Riverside factory of Boulton and Paul Ltd, which was very much involved in the war effort - producing aircraft, glider components and even building armaments factories across the country.

    During July and August 1940 ten workers were killed and 68 injured in an air-raid, which destroyed the box-making and sheet-metal shops as well as the printing department, canteen and boardroom.

    [​IMG]
    Just some of the damage wrought by the bombing raids in residential areas. © the Plunketts.

    Of the 35,000 houses in the city in 1939 more than 2,000 were destroyed and another 2,600 were seriously damaged in raids during World War Two. Fewer than 5,000 escaped without any damage whatsoever.

    A two-metre square map illustrating the approximate location of all the 50, 250, 500 and 1000 pound bombs dropped on Norwich was produced by the City Council shortly after the war. It used to be in the public foyer of City Hall until concerns about its accuracy were raised.

    The bombs are identified by coloured stickers and although some of these have dropped off over time or have been unintentionally moved by the public as they brushed past - or for fun, it is reasonably accurate to within a 100m radius and gives a general overview of the bombing of Norwich.

    Today the map resides on the second floor of St Giles House but we have reproduced it to give you an idea of the destruction wrought by the Luftwaffe during World War Two.

    [​IMG]
    Norwich City Council Map showing (via a series of blue dots) some of the major areas of bomb damage. © Norwich City Council.

    The most destructive and notorious attacks on the city were known as the Baedeker Blitz, during which Norwich was heavily bombed in April 1942. It was one of a series of raids on historic English cities.

    The British Air Marshal Arthur Harris was appointed Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Bomber Command on February 22, 1942. He believed in bombing as a means of taking the fight to the enemy and even of winning the war. As the air campaign progressed Harris' focus moved from attacking industrial targets to assaulting whole cities.

    On the night of March 28, a 234-bomber raid dropped high explosives on the Baltic Port of Lübeck’s Old Town, which was largely composed of wooden buildings. The bombing and the subsequent fire caused 1000 deaths and massive destruction.

    An infuriated Hitler ordered a counter attack against historic British towns. These towns included Exeter, Bath, York, Canterbury and Norwich. Luftwaffe bombers arrived over Norwich on the nights of April 27 and 29, 1942, and thousands of buildings were destroyed along with many lives lost.

    [​IMG]
    Norwich Drill Hall © The Plunketts.

    Norwich was a city chosen for its charm, hence the name Baedeker Blitz, Baedeker being the producers of tourist guidebooks in Germany to the most picturesque English towns and cities.

    In Norwich, Bond's, a local department store, now operating as John Lewis, was one of the buildings and businesses affected by the Baedeker Blitz. Hundreds of buildings were burnt to the ground.

    Remarkably, the owner Ernest Bond was in business again within 3 days of the bombing, selling what he could salvage from his damaged stock. He bought a fleet of disused buses and put them in the car park and used them as shops. Once rebuilt later that decade, Bond's decided to go upmarket and has been ever since.

    [​IMG]
    The postwar rebuilding of Curls' Department store in Oxford Place. © the Plunketts.

    Of the many fine churches in Norwich, it was sadly one of the oldest that was destroyed during the Baedeker Blitz.

    St Julian’s Church in the centre of the city on Kings Street was a Saxon church and one of the first to be built in the city. It was in the 14th century that Julian arrived, took on the name of the saint to whom the church was dedicated and became an anchoress – a religious recluse.

    It is during this time she famously wrote The Revelations of Divine Love, the first book written in English by a woman. The book describes Christ’s passion and crucifixion in graphic detail and discusses the warmth and caring of Christ’s love.

    During the Baedeker Blitz St Julian’s had almost everything except its north wall and porch completely annihilated by a high explosive bomb.

    [​IMG]
    St Julian's Church pictured in 1946. © the Plunketts.

    It remained in a derelict state for nearly a decade and although it was entirely rebuilt, financial restraints have prevented the church being built back to its full former glory.

    Today the church is beautifully quaint and remarkably small. At the back of the church there is a visual display of the history of the church including pictures of the bomb damage during the Second World War.

    For more pictures of pre and post-war photography of Norwich visit the Plunkett's Photographs of Old Norwich website. This excellent site also boasts a detailed section on the bombing of the city during World War Two.

    The Baedeker raids started nearly 200 fires, killed or wounded 850 and damaged thousands of houses but the Cathedral, the Town Hall and St Peter Mancroft remained remarkably intact.

    By the time of the Baedeker raids, Norwich may have been viewed by the Germans as a picturesque city in a tourist guide, but the surrounding countryside was of huge strategic importance. Many airfields and radar stations were established on the flat plains of Norfolk and Suffolk.

    One such place was at RAF Neatishead. Just a few miles from the city near Horning, the base was established as a forward radar station in 1935 and played a role in both overseas and home operations in World War Two.

    Still operational as a base today, RAF Neatishead includes the Royal Airforce Defence Radar Museum

    , which features a Battle of Britain operations room and an accurate recreation of a 1942 CGI Operations Room. The museum also holds pictures taken of Norwich by the Luftwaffe prior to the Baedeker raids and a 'civilians at war' exhibit.
    [​IMG]
    The museum at Neatishead features a recreation of a wartime operations room. © RAF Air Defence Radar Museum.

    When talking about air operations in East Anglia there was one presence that made a lasting impression during World War Two. The US Eighth Air Force were stationed in the area from 1942 onwards - a real yank invasion, which many residents of Norfolk will remember. More than 6,700 young Americans based in the various airbases in the region lost their lives in the line of duty during World War Two.

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    #1 norfolkexplorer, Jun 4, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2015
    oldiesDJ, new-age, Kirbz78 and 7 others like this.

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  2. KM_Punk

    KM_Punk Muppet
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    Really enjoyed reading this :thumb Cheers for sharing
     
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  3. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    Ditto what he said :thumb
     
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  4. Lancashire lad

    Lancashire lad chief taster for costa coffee
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    great write up very interesting pal, hope you get to find the rest of it:thumb
     
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  5. The Shepshed Diamondback

    The Shepshed Diamondback Slithering down a drain near you
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    Just loved the whole thing.
     
  6. Justaitch

    Justaitch 28DL Full Member
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    Cracking report mate! And I'd been told there wasn't much in Norwich.
     
  7. norfolkexplorer

    norfolkexplorer av u seen my marbels
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    Cheers.....Plenty more to see mate. Think my summer holidays will be well spent
     
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  8. Justaitch

    Justaitch 28DL Full Member
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    I might have to make a few trips down!
     
  9. Justaitch

    Justaitch 28DL Full Member
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    Hmm, I think I'll have to make a few trips down!
     
  10. Red-mist

    Red-mist 28DL Member
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    Who was the celebrity in the Instagram photo ?
     
  11. norfolkexplorer

    norfolkexplorer av u seen my marbels
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    Some local person, few photos popped up on my feed and hey presto 'I know exactly where that is I was just there the other day' and then it opens another can of worms. If you are local, there is something in the local rag about what they were up to, but if not I wont say and not ruin the surprise as to what they were up to as it looks like a great project they are working on :)
     
  12. Red-mist

    Red-mist 28DL Member
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    Thanks. I am local, live in lakenham and have been trying to research this place to no avail so any pointers in the right direction would be greatly appreciated. Was this article recent ?
     
  13. norfolkexplorer

    norfolkexplorer av u seen my marbels
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    Yep it was. TBH I have been lifting lids and looking everywhere for ages, and so have my mates. I can't just dish out the info but there will be more coming from me soon. All I will say that George Plunkett is a great resource tool as he documented so much of the city in great detail.
    It is just a case of getting lucky, we have another great site awaiting us being able to get in, but every time we attempt it there is something happening right next to the access and it is teasing us as to what lies below. We don't just want to head in and make every tom dick and harry know about it as if it is any good it will be trashed so quickly.

    Pop some reports up of what you get up to as well, would be great to see some of the fruits of your explorers
     
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  14. Red-mist

    Red-mist 28DL Member
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    Great. Thanks for taking the time to reply. I know you obviously can't give the location out so I will try to work with the info you have given me. I have done a few explorations like the harford hills chalk mines and the rosary road chalk mines and both the asylums. I am fairly new to urbex and haven't taken many pics yet but I'm always on the lookout for new explores in the Norwich area. Best of luck : )
     
  15. norfolkexplorer

    norfolkexplorer av u seen my marbels
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    Cheers. It is shocking what is out there when you start looking, and glad I did
     
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