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WATCH: The secret Second World War bunker below a quiet suburban street

PUBLISHED: 09:03 12 January 2019 | UPDATED: 09:06 13 January 2019

The house with the 80-year-old secret, a World War Two air-raid shelter hidden away in the front garden in Waldemar Avenue. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The house with the 80-year-old secret, a World War Two air-raid shelter hidden away in the front garden in Waldemar Avenue. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2019

You wouldn’t know it from walking past, but below the front garden of a Norwich house, is a secret concrete bunker and a clue to the street’s history.

Sonja Gaffer, 52, has lived in her home, in Waldemar Avenue, Hellesdon, since 1985, but her family’s connections to the house and its own history go back a lot further.

Ms Gaffer’s grandfather - Jack Platten - moved to the house, which was built in 1928, from Eccles in 1946, when he was employed by the construction company, Bush Builders.

At the time the property was owned by the Bush Builders and still housed 16 of the business’ workshops and an air-raid shelter for the company’s employees.

Today, the workshops have long gone and the formerly empty land around the house has been filled with houses but the concrete 10ft by 10ft air-raid shelter submerged beneath the front garden remains.

Sonja Gaffer in the entrance to the World War Two air-raid shelter in her front garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSonja Gaffer in the entrance to the World War Two air-raid shelter in her front garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Ms Gaffer, who works as a dog-groomer, said that while her family didn’t know if the shelter had been used during the war, her grandfather had recalled seeing the skies about Norwich light up during the war.

“My grandfather talked about the raids, they lived in Eccles at the time, but they saw the raids over the city.”

Currently lying unused, Ms Gaffer, said over the years her family had tried to make use of the bunker but its conditions had made it difficult: “It’s quite a small room, we’ve tried to grow mushrooms down there but it’s too cold, tried to use it as a wine cellar and it’s been used as a car pit.

“I don’t think any of my neighbours know it’s there, I think originally it came out of the ground so you could see it,

Sonja Gaffer in the World War Two air-raid shelter in her front garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSonja Gaffer in the World War Two air-raid shelter in her front garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“I’ve probably been down there about four times in 30 years,” she said.

Sharing pictures of the shelter on social media, Ms Gaffer said that when people did find out the bunker was there they were keen to discover its history: “I think a lot of people just like it for the nostalgia,” she said.

*Does your home have a story to tell? If so, email sabrina.johnson@archant.co.uk

Hidden away, the 80-year-old secret, a World War Two air-raid shelter, the entrance through the red metal hatch, in the front garden of a house in Waldemar Avenue. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYHidden away, the 80-year-old secret, a World War Two air-raid shelter, the entrance through the red metal hatch, in the front garden of a house in Waldemar Avenue. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Hidden away, the 80-year-old secret, a World War Two air-raid shelter, under the red metal hatch, in the front garden of a house in Waldemar Avenue. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYHidden away, the 80-year-old secret, a World War Two air-raid shelter, under the red metal hatch, in the front garden of a house in Waldemar Avenue. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Sonja Gaffer in the World War Two air-raid shelter in her front garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSonja Gaffer in the World War Two air-raid shelter in her front garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Sonja Gaffer takes a closer look at the old EDP and Evening News newspaper print marks on the ceiling over the entrance in the World War Two air-raid shelter in her front garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSonja Gaffer takes a closer look at the old EDP and Evening News newspaper print marks on the ceiling over the entrance in the World War Two air-raid shelter in her front garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Sonja Gaffer in the entrance to the World War Two air-raid shelter in her front garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSonja Gaffer in the entrance to the World War Two air-raid shelter in her front garden. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Sonja Gaffer's grandfather, Jack Platten, and grandmother, Edie May. Picture: Courtesy Sonja GafferSonja Gaffer's grandfather, Jack Platten, and grandmother, Edie May. Picture: Courtesy Sonja Gaffer

Old EDP and Evening News newspaper print marks the ceiling over the entrance to the World War Two air-raid shelter. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOld EDP and Evening News newspaper print marks the ceiling over the entrance to the World War Two air-raid shelter. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Ten-month old Sonja Gaffer with her grandfather Jack Platten. Picture: Courtesy Sonja GafferTen-month old Sonja Gaffer with her grandfather Jack Platten. Picture: Courtesy Sonja Gaffer

Plant roots on the entrance wall inside the World War Two air raid shelter. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPlant roots on the entrance wall inside the World War Two air raid shelter. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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