They knew war with Nazi Germany was coming when work began on a series of subterranean tunnels into the soft, red sandstone below the town of Stockport in northern England in 1938.
The labyrinth of tunnels were extended again once war was declared in September 1939 and were about a mile in length. The Stockport Air Raid Shelters, known locally as the "Chestergate Hotel" provided nightly protection for thousands of people from as far away as Manchester.
Up to 6,500 civilians could take cover in the tunnels which were equipped with electric light, flushing toilets, a First Aid post and wooden benches. To prevent over-crowding a ticketing system was introduced.
Among our tour group was an old lady who had actually sheltered in the tunnels and described the unforgettable stench of the place, caused mainly from the chemical toilets as not all the latrines were plumbed in.
Visitors can see the actual beds, toilets, a tool store and a collection of war-time posters along with a laser and sound show demonstrating an air raid with the noise of sirens and falling bombs.
Stockport Air Raid Shelters
Tel: 0161 474 1940
Other places of interest in and around Stockport in Greater Manchester include Stockport Town Hall, St Mary's Church, Bramhall Hall, Stockport Market, Fred Perry's birthplace, Woodbank Park, Vernon Park, the Viaduct and Stockport Hat Museum.
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