Hampshire & Isle of Wight

World War II shelter unlocked after 65 years in Gosport

Wooden bench inside the shelter with cobwebs
Image caption The shelter is expected to be opened to the public in 2011

A Royal Navy air raid shelter in Hampshire has been opened for the first time since the end of World War II.

The concrete and steel structure, built in 1940, provided shelter for staff at the former naval ordnance depot in Priddys Hard, Gosport.

It was locked at the end of the war due to flooding and had remained closed since then.

The shelter, within the grounds of the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, is set to open to the public in 2011.

It still has its original features including duck boards, seating and a sump pump.

The timber work was mainly made from hardwood so it has survived the damp conditions well.

Stagnant water

Work at the depot started to wind down from the 1960s and it closed in 1989.

The museum has opened up the shelter after removing the padlock.

Marc Forrance, visitor services manager at the museum, said at one time more than 3,000 people would have worked on the site, which provided munitions for the Royal Navy.

"It has been boarded up and there was also a padlock on the door which we had no key to open," he said.

"We have been told that in the past it has been full of stagnant water, preventing access.

"It has never been seen by public eyes before and it will give people a first hand account of what it was like to almost be part of a raid within the Blitz on the local area."

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