Air raid shelter discovery
Published on: 30 Jan 2014
THE discovery of an air raid shelter beneath a school playground came as a surprise to many – but not to volunteer reading helper David Weeks.
Mr Weeks, a retired Methodist minister who lives in Downend, attended Two Mile Hill Primary in Kingswood during the war and remembers very well taking refuge in the underground bunker.
He and his classmates used to go down into the shelter during the Blitz on Bristol more than 70 years ago.
“We would sing songs, listen to stories and recite our times tables,” said Mr Weeks. “Sometimes there were active air raids and sometimes false alarms.”
The shelter was uncovered by builders preparing to construct an extension to the school. Staff were aware there had been an air raid shelter on the junior playground but had not known about the one under the infant playground, down some steps next to an old caretaker's cottage.
Mr Weeks, 78, got the chance to go into the narrow shelter – and said it was just as he remembered it, when the the children would sit on benches on either side of narrow corridors.
Present-day pupils asked him if the experience in the 1940s had been scary, but Mr Weeks said he had not been frightened.
“I was four when the war started, so it was just the way things were for me. All my childhood memories are of wartime. It is a credit to our parents that they somehow lived through it in such a way that we were not scared, although there were frightening things going on,” he said.
“I remember going into Bristol and seeing the bombed-out buildings – and collecting shrapnel.”
The shelter is being filled in so that construction work can be completed, but thanks to Mr Weeks passing on his story to 21st century children, it will not be forgotten.
Mr Weeks was a minister in Leeds and Devon before returning to his home area on retirement. He now lives in Cleevewood Road and has been listening to children read at his old school every week for about 12 years.