Fringe Box



Letter: Where Is The Underground Shelter We Once Found?

Published on: 2 Mar, 2014
Updated on: 4 Mar, 2014

From Dai Haskins

When I was about 13 years old (I am now 59) I can remember finding a chalk quarry somewhere behind St Luke’s Hospital or the Pilgrims’ Way, Guildford.

There was an opening where we (I was with two friends) left our bikes and ventured in using our cycle lights.

Air raid wardenThe tunnel went back a long way, and we turned right at the first junction. At the next ‘crossroads’ we turned right again and I went back to the second of the three openings in the quarry face.

As the quarry floor sloped away the drop from the third opening was about 15 feet or so. The were several rooms off the tunnels/corridors.

I remember one had a ‘red cross’ on it, so we thought it was first aid. Another had something that made us realise we were in an air raid shelter, possibly the words ‘Air Raid Warden’.

The overhead electrical conduit for the lighting was hanging down in places. There were two shafts going up at the crossroads, both had a rusty ladder that started from the ceiling height going up as far as we could see.

We lifted one of my friends up so he could reach the ladder. He climbed to the top and said there was something at the top with slats like a beehive. We guessed this was for ventilation. He also said he thought he had seen something like them on the nearby golf course.

I have never been able to find the quarry since, or any reference to it.

Click here for previous story on Guildford’s air-raid shelters.

David Rose replies: Di confirms that what he and his friends found were not the deep air-raid shelters under Foxenden Quarry, off York Road. Dug during the Second World War, these shelters have on occasions in recent years been open to the public during the Heritage Open Days.

Do you know where the underground shelter or passageways are that he mentions? Please leave a reply in the box below or email me at


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Responses to Letter: Where Is The Underground Shelter We Once Found?

  1. Chris Townsend Reply

    March 3, 2014 at 7:37 am

    The caverns at Racks Close are my first thought. Search the Dragon website for earlier mentions.

  2. Peter Bullen Reply

    March 13, 2014 at 10:31 am

    I agree with Chris. The tunnels in Racks Close were lit by electricity at one time and I have seen photographs showing the overhead wires. My only regret was never having had a chance of exploring the tunnels before the entrance was bricked up.

  3. John Foster Reply

    March 14, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    My elder sister Muriel, who was born in 1914, went a short distance into the tunnel but little to say on the subject.

    A particular memory of mine was of standing outside the entrance gates one day and catching a glimpse of a young man who stood up from a position about 30 yards away and aimed at me. I instinctively dropped down as a slug from an air pistol slammed into the gate post. I shot off as fast as I could through the lower entrance to Quarry Street and never told anyone of the event.

    Some time later I read in the local paper of a young man, armed with a air pistol, being fined for killing a dog. Same person perhaps?

  4. Andrew Backhurst Reply

    March 18, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    My mum and her younger brother were children when living in Cline Road during and after the war and say they knew every inch of Pewley Downs like the back of their hand. But neither have any memories of any underground shelters up there.

  5. Cameron Wilson Reply

    October 28, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    There used to be a fort on Pewley Down. It contained some large underground tunnels that still exist today.

    I’m not sure when the tunnels were closed, but I believe they are now part of one of the larger houses on Pewley Down, and are used as a wine cellar.

    I reckon these are the ones David remembers as they’re close to St Luke’s Hospital.

  6. John Lomas Reply

    October 28, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    Looking at oldmaps
    The 1934 1:10560 is the earliest one appearing to identify Pewley Hill Fort, although earlier ones as far back as the 1896 1:2500 do have the distinctive boundary shape to the plot of land.

    The 1871 1:500 does show a featured marked “Entrance to ?*?*?*? just east of Racks Close. I can’t get a good enough image on the computer without subscribing to the olldmaps site, but Guildford Library might have the actual paper map from that date or one very close.

  7. Cameron Wilson Reply

    May 13, 2019 at 11:34 am

    This is most likely the old Pewley Hill fort, which was located on the road “Pewley point”. This fort had quite a few underground tunnels matching a similar description.

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