Old London Road Air Raid Shelter

From Historical Hastings

Also known as the Torfield air raid shelter, this is perhaps the largest purpose-built Air Raid Shelter in the locality. Post war, there were plans to convert the tunnels into a mushroom farm, but this did not come to fruition[1].

Plan of the shelter

Plans drawn by Sidney Little, the Borough Engineer, reveal that the shelters are of a concrete construction consisting of arch-topped tunnels measuring 5 feet (1.5M) wide and 7 feet 6 inches (2.3M) high with concrete 9 inches (22cm) thick, buried between 1' 6" (45cm) at the east (Old London Road) side and 5 feet underground for the back of the main tunnel. There were three access points provided of between sixty and seventy four feet (18-23M) in length, the most northern of which split into two tunnels and had an emergency exit off the intersection of this tunnel with the main tunnel which led off diagonally. The tunnels intersected a 103 foot (31M) long main tunnel running parallel to the road. Brick blast walls were constructed at each end of the access tunnels. Benches were to be provided at each side of the tunnels, with aventilation (presumably mechanical) shaft half way along the main tunnel and a further pair of ventilation shafts at the southern and northern entrances. The plans do not reveal any toilet facilities, but presumably there would have been several chemical (ELSAN) toilets for users of the shelter.

It is believed that these are one of very few still surviving examples of this type of shelter construction, and as of 2023/2024, efforts are underway by a number of interested parties to hopefully restore the shelter to enable it to be viewed by the general public.

Torfield Air Raid Shelter Plans a.jpg.jpg

Above video from History Hunters UK showing interior of shelter.

References & Notes

  1. Hastings Borough Council Planning application ref HS/FA/49/00055