Abandoned Surrey: Foxwarren Air Raid Shelter
Hidden in the woodlands near a golf course and a Victorian country house estate is this abandoned WWII air raid shelter. There is little known about this shelter but it is believed that it served nearby Brooklands, a motor racing circuit and aerodrome used for military aircraft production during WWII.
Brooklands, 2 miles from the air raid shelter, produced the Vickers Wellington, Vickers Warwick and Hawker Hurricane. Even though efforts were made to extensively camouflage Brooklands with trees being planted in the sections of concrete track, the site was successfully bombed by the Luftwaffe. The threat of enemy bombers attacking Brooklands led to many shelters being built around the factory. The biggest held 5,000 people. On the 4th September 1940, the Vickers factory was bombed and 90 workers were killed and 419 were injured. After this attack the work was dispersed and one of the places chosen was Foxwarren Park.
Foxwarren Park estate was built in 1860 and in 1940 it hosted the research facilities of the engineering firm Vickers. The site played a crucial role in the development Barnes Wallis’ bouncing bomb. This work was famously successful in the Dambuster Raid in 1943.
The air raid shelter is located near an extensive golf course and many large houses and so when we saw a police car parked on the road nearby we decided to come back later. We returned an hour later and the empty police car was still there, something we have not experienced before. We had found some clear instructions about how to find the shelter so decided to park up for a quick explore. Unfortunately, the coordinates online and the instructions we had were off. This might have not been such an issue if it was not pitch black.
Thankfully after about 20 minutes of wandering aimlessly through the trees and bushes in the woodlands we found some old metal containers. This was the first sign that we were finally on the right track! We followed the artefacts to find the main entrance of the shelter. The grand entrance is one of the most impressive we have come across. They are wide and gated and were used to ventilate the shelter.
A multitude of old tyres greeted us at the bottom of the short set of stairs. These are home to a large spider which has been spotted by a number of explorers over the years. Once you have navigated yourself around the spider haven, the shelter is small and anything authentic has long gone. The shelter is in a H shape with latines by the airy entrance. At the other end of the shelter is the escape shaft with vertical ladder that has become detached from the wall.
The explore was a quick one. The shelter was narrow and could not have been comfortable to spend long periods of time in. Thankfully Foxwarren Park survived the Luftwaffe and presumably this shelter played its role in its survival.
Last Updated on 21 March 2023 by Michael