It became clear as he dug that what he had seen was indeed a piece of metal protruding from the ground. Before he could get a firm grip on it, he carefully cleaned the dirt away from around it. The metal wouldn’t budge no matter how hard he pulled.
Simon made the decision to heave on the metal, but it remained immovable. He understood that in order to remove it, he would need to dig it out further. He started digging up the metal thing. He soon realized there was a lot more to it. It was joined to another object.
Buying a new house is always a tricky affair as you never really know what you are getting into. However, when Simon Marks, a 37-year-old man from England, found a house in Luton, England at a bargain of a price he knew he couldn’t pass it up.
He was delighted when he was informed that his offer had been accepted and he quickly signed the paperwork. The transfer was already underway. In his excitement, Simon never stopped to wonder why the owner was in such a rush to get the house off their hands.
It was was a few months later when Simon finally stood in his new home feeling excited as he unpacked his boxes. He couldn’t wait to spend his first night in his new home. He carried on unpacking boxes until he was exhausted and decided to go to bed.
As he finally climbed into bed, Simon worked out what time he would need to get up due to his much shorter commute to work. He smiled as he set his alarm for 8 a.m. He turned around and settled in for the night but that’s when it happened. In the darkness, he heard a weird sound.
Simon tried not to make a sound, even holding his breath so he could hear better. All was quiet for a moment but then he heard it again. It was a sound like gravel scraping along metal and it came from outside.
He got up and tiptoed over to the window, carefully peering out, hoping to find the source of the sound but as he looked out of the window onto the garden he could no longer hear the sound. Shrugging he returned to bed, unaware of what where that sound would lead him the following day.
When morning came, Simon got himself ready for work and climbed into his black Vauxhall Zafira and put the car into reverse. However, his car just lurched forward. He tried again but his car simply wouldn’t budge.
Eventually, he revved the car until it finally pulled free from whatever was stopping it. He was relieved when it finally came free but what had it been caught on? He got out of his car and went to look at what caused the problem. When he saw it his blood ran cold.
He stood there shaking his head in disbelief at all the damage he had just caused. He got on his knees to inspect the driveway beneath his car. “At least this day can’t get any worse,” he thought to himself.
As he began to examine the concrete paving slabs he started to hear something. It was a strange, sickening sound that made him uneasy. His heart sank in his chest as he wondered what he had stumbled across.
He knelt down and peered at the spot. To his dismay his suspicion had been right, the concrete paving had cracked. However, while he was still staring at it he watched as it started to cave in right before his very eyes.
He scrambled backward as he wanted the concrete paving snap and start to collapse, falling into the dark hole that was opening up as he watched helplessly. Dust filled the air momentarily blocking his view. However, once the dust had finally settled, he saw something even more concerning.
Simon was aware of the house’s age. It had been built in the seventies by the old couple who had lived there before him. However, nowhere on the plans had this been indicated. What was it? And why had it been omitted from the plans?
When everything had settled and he was sure it was safe to put weight on the remaining paving, Simon inched closer to the hole while lying on his stomach. Finally, he spotted something in the dirt but he couldn’t identify it so he went to get a trowel before returning.
When the hole had started to open up Simon immediately imagined the worst. He pictured his car, house, and everything he owned being swallowed by the earth itself as a giant sinkhole opened up.
But now he was over the initial shock and investigating this strange occurrence. He kept clearing away dirt and soon realise that he was staring at something he couldn’t handle alone. He reached for his phone and called the only backup he could think of.
Gerald Marks, Simon’s father, the only person Simon could think to call, rushed over to see what was going on. Once there, he and Simon started to get to work. They had no professional tools but they carefully removed all the cracked concrete paving around the hole.
As they removed the paving they uncovered a large rectangular hole in the floor. The idea of there being a secret passage troubled them. Why was it under the driveway? Where did it go? Why had no one mentioned it? Right now they could only answer one of those questions. Only one way to know for sure.
Simon had done his research before buying the old house. He was all too aware that ordinance surveys wouldn’t shed any light on the mysterious passageway hidden beneath his driveway.
According to the reports, there had been nothing but empty land there before the home was built. A shiver ran down his spine as they began to dig.
They dug out shovelful after shovelful of the densely-packed mud and carted it away in buckets. The pile of earth beside them grew larger by the hour, and soon the pair had painstakingly excavated around five feet of dirt — enough for them to climb down the ladder and investigate.
And what they found would shed some light on the house’s eerie past.
As Simon climbed halfway down the ladder, a strange feeling crept over him. He didn’t want to go any further. What if it wasn’t safe? He ran back to the house to fetch his selfie stick. With his phone firmly attached, he lowered it into the hole.
On the phone’s screen, he saw that the underground passageway was hiding two rooms. Gerald thought he knew what they were looking at immediately, but they had to be sure.
Simon had purchased the property in question for around half a million dollars. But the land had been used for something else, long before the house was built there.
The elderly man who had sold the house to Simon was the original owner of the home, but he’d neglected to tell Simon what lay underneath. The sounds he had heard the night before had been the earth finally giving way under the driveway as it fell into the secret room.
Simon and his father stopped digging and began to do some research of their own. They looked up the plot number and then things became apparent very quickly. Prior to the previous owners of the house, this plot of land had stood empty.
But Gerald quickly pointed out that the land was situated in a strategic place in the town. But even more telling was the period in which the house had been built.
“My dad saw it and instantly said it’s an air raid shelter,” Simon said. “We googled it and found there are quite a few in this area.” After conducting some research, Simon found out that the shelter had been built during World War II!
“The previous owner must have known it was there and when he built the house and put a garden in… he must have filled it in,” Simon told the reporters.
In 1938, during WWII, A man by the name of Sir John Anderson was tasked with preparing the county for war. It was his duty to come up with a strategy to protect Britain’s citizens from the impending onslaught and the bombings that he knew was coming.
So, he devised an ingenious plan to ensure the civilians’ safety.
Sir John Anderson and his team of engineers planned and helped to create cheap and simple underground shelters that could easily be buried in people’s backyards. The close proximity meant that British citizens could seek shelter at a moment’s notice.
These structures’ walls were constructed from lightweight and flexible metal — a better alternative to concrete. Over two million of these bomb shelters were scattered around the country. But what Simon had found was not one of these…
Just by looking at the chamber that Simon had found, Gerald could immediately tell that it wasn’t an Anderson-designed bomb shelter. But it had indeed been built around 1938 — not long after a bomb landed in the area near Luton.
Citizens in the area were frightened when they learned that their small city was now a target. They had to find a better way to stay safe.
The community came together and quickly devised a plan to create a community shelter that was built to better withstand the air raids. Gerald could tell that the shelter that they had uncovered was definitely not an Anderson-style shelter — it had at least two rooms and was constructed from bricks and concrete.
And, as Simon and Gerald dug deeper into the shelter, they uncovered some unusual artifacts.
In one of the hidden rooms, Simon and Gerald found a newspaper clipping. The Herald newspaper dated from the days of WWII and one of the headlines read “Luton Airport is this the end?” while other articles detailed the goings-on of daily life in the war-torn country.
This artifact offered a rare glimpse into British life during the war, but it wasn’t the only relic they found.
Simon and Gerald also found evidence that proved that the bomb shelter had once been stocked up with food and water to sustain the people who hid there. After all, people who were held up in underground shelters could be stuck there for days at a time.
“It’s incredible to think it has all been made by hand,” Simon later told reporters.
The concrete walls of the underground shelter had been reinforced by brick and mortar, which created a further buffer to protect it from the raids from above. But even after Simon and Gerald had finally unearthed the monumental discovery, their work still wasn’t done.
“It’s been a case of dig, dig, dig. We’re about five feet down at the moment so it’s just another five feet to go until it’s finished. I think we’re going to have to get a skip in because there’s so much rubbish to get rid of,” Simon stated. Then, the pair made another discovery…
“One of the walls has been bricked up. I’m 90 percent sure we won’t find out any more rooms but we don’t know. They might have bricked up one of the walls when the house was built to make way for the foundations,” Simon told reporters.
“If that’s the case we’ll just have to leave it,” he added. But it wasn’t long before the discovery went viral.
As Simon and his father continued to dig, news reporters and neighbors began to flood into his front driveway just to get a look at the amazing and historic discovery.
But Simon didn’t care much for all the attention he was receiving — his concerns lay elsewhere. He didn’t spend hours digging up his driveway for fame.
Simon felt that it was important to let the world know about his discovery, but not for notoriety. He feels that he has an obligation to his country’s rich history. He didn’t want this piece of history to be forgotten.
He wanted the air-raid shelter to be preserved for future generations. So, what does he plan to do when the shelter has been completely cleared?
Simon and his father plan to restore the shelter and preserve it — they hope that it will be declared an important and historical monument. They believe that just because the war is over and long past, that period in time should never be buried and forgotten.
They hope that future generations will visit the shelter and catch a glimpse of an important part of history.
Disclaimer: To protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, places, or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.