An air raid shelter on Lancing Beach Green has been opened up for the first time in roughly a decade.
Councillor Geoff Patmore, joined by resident Andrew Eggington and members of Keep Lancing Lovely, investigated the shelter to establish how safe it was, with a view of opening it up to the public.
It is a priceless piece of Lancing heritageCouncillor Geoff Patmore
Mr Patmore said of stepping inside the shelter, which had been filled in with earth, for the first time: “It was surreal.
“If you imagine why they were built, what people must have felt, having to go there for safety at very short notice, sheltering from death.”
The shelter is a typical pre-cast concrete panel design, created by a company called Trianco.
Mr Patmore describes it as two containers long with space to shelter around 30 people at most.
Sean Clark, a qualified structural engineer who runs Sean Clark Associates in Lancing, offered to survey the shelter for free.
He found the condition of the shelter to be ‘generally good’ and confirmed that it could be adopted for public use – although he said ‘remedial works would definitely be required’.
The ultimate aim is to refurbish the shelter for residents, tourists and school groups to visit.
“We want to create a real life experience of what it was like,” Mr Patmore said.
He is also trying to establish how much the shelter would have been used and by who.
The project is part of a wider campaign, spearheaded by Lancing Parish Council, to create a history trail in Lancing.
Mr Patmore said it was ‘such a shame’ that the shelter had been hidden for so long.
“It is a priceless piece of Lancing heritage,” he said.
“Lancing has such a colourful history,”
In the next few months he hopes to excavate the main entrance to the air raid shelter, clear the passageway and apply for grants to help fund an information board and more.
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