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Report - The Grove Air Raid Shelters, Watford, Hertfordshire - June 2015

Discussion in 'Underground Sites' started by Bertie Bollockbrains, Jun 17, 2015.

  1. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Well these World War II shelters have only appeared a couple of times on here and that was many years ago, so I thought I will put this up just to let you know that they are still there.

    Exploring is all about timing I guess and on this one I failed BIG time. These shelters are located within the grounds of a very exclusive upmarket hotel (cheapest room £265 per night) and golf club. I only turned up at the exact same time that the England football team were checking in. The place was swarming with the world's media and security everywhere. I spent a long time sat in the car wondering if I should really be doing this whilst watching Rooney and co getting off the team coach with the press swarming around my car. Well it was a long drive so I did eventually pluck up the courage...

    HISTORY

    Taken from Els report in 2011:

    The London, Midland and Scottish (LMS) Railway, with some foresight one presumes, bought a large area of land near Watford along with it's now disused Manor House for use as their HQ in the event of a war, away from their current HQ in Euston Station. As events transpired, by Easter 1939 with the on going approach of WW2, the move had started in earnest, being known as Project X.

    Extra space was required in addition to the manor house so a quite a few wooden huts were built around the estate, although not enough in time for the move. This meant that some people ended up working a three day week due to the constraints on space. As well as the huts and numerous other buildings, they eventually managed to build quite a collection of concrete air raid shelters

    Full history can be read here.

    THE EXPLORE

    First thing first, the website of the Grove Hotel tells me that these shelters are home to a large colony of Pipistrelle bats. I was worried that if caught I could be charged for disturbing a bat colony (a criminal offence for all bat roosts are protected). So I went with a bat detector. Let me explain that, bats do make sounds but at a frequency beyond what the human ear can pick up. The Pipistrelle makes sounds at about 45KHz. A bat detector (which can be bought from about £60, much less if made yourself - the electronics is not complicated and basic soldering skills will do it) transposes this high frequency sound to a lower frequency that the human ear hears. Anyways, the bat detector would had told me from up to a 100m away if any bats were present. Except there were no bats present, and no bat poo on the ground too.

    The are several shelters each identified by a letter from A to M. Each shelter consists of 4 passages in a square shape and with it's own entrance. All of the shelters are linked underground. They all look the same underground, so if anyone wants to follow me and is time short... head to shelter C because that's the cleanest one with the best preserved benches.

    If truth be told, the roof of these shelters is only about 6 inches below the level of the ground so, unless there has been massive landscaping work done here in the last 70 years, these shelters wouldn't had provided protection from one of my farts never alone from the Luftwaffe.

    [​IMG]

    And the remains of wooden benches
    [​IMG]

    And a toilet seat
    [​IMG]

    Wooden seats stacked up
    [​IMG]

    Passages all beginning to look the same now
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Each shelter is identified from A to M, and each passage in the square from 1 to 4
    [​IMG]

    Here we see the roof of the shelter being just below the surface and quite useless against bombs
    [​IMG]

    And the entrances
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    And the square shape of each shelter can be made out from above ground
    [​IMG]

    Finally whilst I couldn't find any bats in there (and I had to machine to do so), there was plenty of life in them shelters. Let me introduce you to the European Cave Spider (Meta menardi), one of largest spiders in the UK and can easily be over 5cm across. There were hundreds in the shelters, which may alarm some people but really are completely harmless. A colony of cave spiders were discovered in Buckingham Palace and caused the moronic tabloid newspapers at the time to report of swarms of killer spiders inside the Royal palace! Look out for them in any mine/underground environment (the photo is one of mine but taken in a Wiltshire quarry and not in this shelter as I didnt have a suitable lens with me)
    [​IMG]

    Thanks for reading.
     
    #1 Bertie Bollockbrains, Jun 17, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2015
    loopylou, mw0sec, Rik UE and 4 others like this.

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  2. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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  3. Oxygen Thief

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    That's an interesting construction of the entrance.
     
  4. Ojay

    Ojay Admin
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    Bolted, Segmental ? been used a bit here and there that, just not many examples left these day's
     
  5. Lancashire lad

    Lancashire lad chief taster for costa coffee
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    liking it pal theres one identical to it in colne
     
  6. slayaaaa

    slayaaaa 28DL Regular User
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    Hah, had no idea these were there. Cheers for that :)
     
  7. huey

    huey 28DL Regular User
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    Nice one Bertron, ive never seen concrete entrances shaped like those either, pretty cool. Nice and unmolested too, good to see them in such original condition. Im surprised with your physical prowess and build none of the reporters mistook you for one of the football team!
     
  8. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    I'm always being mistaken for either a famous Hollywood actor or a famous Olympic athlete whenever I'm out and about. Lots of people also stop me in the streets asking if I'm a famous porn star. Getting rather annoying now. My wife has never been mistaken for being a famous supermodel though.
     
  9. Paulct

    Paulct 28DL Full Member
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    It's not the Grange it's the Grove.

    It used to be the British Railways Training College after the war. Went there many times but not this part of the site. spent too much time in the Bar!

    Paul
     
  10. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    whoops thanks for that, edited the post now
     
  11. ACID- REFLUX

    ACID- REFLUX 28DL Regular User
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    Nice ones mate :thumb Can"t beat a bit of Tunnel action ;)
     
  12. Miss Mayhem

    Miss Mayhem 28DL Regular User
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    Good job, looks cool :thumb
     
  13. Rik UE

    Rik UE 28DL Regular User
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    Visited these 28 years ago with my stepdad and my brother, my stepdad and I were well up for going inside, but my brother who was only about 10 shit himself and started crying lol, so we never went all the way in the tunnels. I've always wanted to pop back and take a look after seeing Trogs old report and now yours it is a must :)

    Nice report :)
     
  14. Bertie Bollockbrains

    Bertie Bollockbrains 28DL Regular User
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    Go for it. Its dead easy to find a way in and if your car is respectable (ideally a Bentley) and you dressed as if you about to spend £265 on a hotel room, you can park in the hotel car park without arousing suspicion. The shelter about 50m from the car park.
     
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