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Anderson shelter unearthed at Stoke Community Primary School after being discovered by pupil

By Jenni Horn

A chance discovery in the grounds of a primary school has uncovered an air raid shelter left untouched for 60 years.

The Anderson shelter has been unearthed at Stoke Community Primary School after one of its pupils spotted a trace of the structure under a mound of dirt and brambles.

Harvey Cotton, 10, had been taking part in an environment day and saw a block of concrete at the back of what used to be an orchard, where clearance work has been taking place.

The school caretaker and a parent helper have discovered an Anderson air raid shelter in the school grounds

School caretaker Chris Poulter was sent to investigate and was amazed at what he found.

He said: “We cleared away some of the vegetation and saw the steps down to the shelter.

“After more clearance work we were able to get to the entrance.

“It was bricked up most of the way and there was a wooden door behind it. We knocked through the bricks and it opened up into the shelter.”

Once inside, Mr Poulter and parent helper Martin Blackwell discovered a crate of dusty old milk bottles and other items that had lain untouched for decades.

The pair were even more surprised when they ran an extension lead down to the shelter and switched on the light and the bulb still worked.

Head of School Anita Meggs, site manager Chris Poulter and Martin Blackwell, parent helper at the shelter

It is thought the shelter was used by more than just members of the school during the Blitz.

A gate at the top of the steps leads from the school grounds to Allhallows Road, so villagers could have also used it.

The school now plans to restore the shelter so it can be used for hands-on lessons about the Second World War.

Volunteers from National Grid have agreed to connect a power supply and help with some of the clearance work to create better access to the shelter.

Head teacher Anita Meggs said: “We feel very privileged to have such a wonderful resource in the school grounds.

Building an Anderson Shelters in back gardens

“There is so much history in the school, which has been here since the 1800s. In September we plan on doing a project on the Second World War that will run all term.

“We hope to use the shelter for lessons and invite older villagers, who may have used the shelter, into the school to tell their stories about the war.”

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