TEACHERS who discovered they had a hidden, full-scale Second World War bunker under their school field have been shocked to be handed a map detailing five more.
School managers are applying for funding to turn the first bunker into a “living history project” complete with seating and lighting where heritage weekends and history projects could be held.
But teachers were surprised when Tees Archives sent the school a map which appears to show five other air raid shelters dotted around the school grounds.
The bunkers were almost certainly built by ICI who commandeered the site shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. Tees Archives, based in Middlesbrough, have found an ICI map which shows that five other bunkers were also built and handed it to the school.
It’s not known what work was being completed by ICI but, intriguingly, the school has been contacted by an elderly woman who worked there from 1941 to 1944 who said the work was “of a very secretive nature”.
Helen Mellor, head of marketing at the school, said it appeared that the discovered shelter had been covered up in the 1960s or 1970s and was completely invisible from the surface.
She said: “It looks like the children of that era were using it as a kind of den until then. We’ve found yoghurt pots and coke cans and things like that where it looks like they’ve gone and had a little feast. Probably the teachers thought it was dangerous and needed to be covered up.
“We were surprised when the map came through with the other shelters. We’re going to investigate but, really, we don’t want to chop any sound trees or anything like that.”
Mrs Mellor explained that Woodside Hall, once a family residence, was at the modern school site and that building was used by ICI in the war.
The school has appealed for anyone with information to come forward.
Preston Hall Museum, which is just a few minutes’ walk away, and other schools from across the area have also expressed interest in the shelter and its potential to bring history to life for youngsters.