British man Simon Marks wouldn’t predict that when his car got stuck one day in the driveway of his new home that it would lead to a chain of events and literally unearthing a major discovery. He was in for the surprise of his life and it all started when he backed out of his driveway one morning.
A rather inconspicuous event led to a finding something of real historical significance. Simon Marks never truly understood how something could be so frightening and yet exciting at the same moment. And knowing that something has been hiding under your property for so long is downright chilling. Here’s his story.
Meet Simon Marks
It was October of 2016, when British man Simon Marks from Luton, England, considered it to be a normal day, like any other day in the life of a normal guy on a normal morning.
At the time, Marks was a computer support technician. And was proud of finally being able to purchase his first home. Like most home buyers, you never really know what you’re buying. Simon had no idea that the property held a secret of epic proportions just waiting to be discovered.
A Bump in the Road
Simon was 37 at the time, and his work was conducted in an office setting. As many of us know, the weekends are the time to enjoy ourselves and get out to spend time with friends and family.
One weekend, Simon was pulling out of his driveway hit a bump, literally. As he was heading out, encountered a bump on the pavement.
But Simon didn’t expect much of it. Would you?
A Small Mishap
This moment on the driveway would be the first piece of the puzzle that was about to be laid out for him. And it was about to lead to an incredible chain of events.
Simon’s reliable car, for some reason, was having trouble backing out of his driveway. He knew that it wasn’t the car itself that was the problem. Something was blocking the way. So Simon’s trip was delayed for the time being.
It Bugged Him all Weekend
Simon tried again to reverse his car out of his driveway, but it just wasn’t working. So he had to really hit the gas pedal and he eventually managed to get out and he went out to his pursue his weekend plans.
Simon realized, however, that there was something wrong with the pavement and he was going to have to do something about it. It continued to bug him and he promised to himself that he would get to it when he came home.
Little did he know what he was in for!
He Took a Closer Look
After coming home from his weekend away from home, Simon took a closer look at the spot in his driveway. At first, Simon figured that a piece of the pavement had been poorly constructed.
He also thought that maybe there used to be a garden where the driveway was now which could mean it was improperly filled in. And both of those scenarios would be an easy fix. But it was much bigger than that.
A Massive Hole
As it turned out, a gigantic hole formed in his driveway and Simon was in above his head. He started to worry that his home was situated on top of a sinkhole or something disastrous. It could threaten the stability of his newly-purchased home!
Simon was aware that he wouldn’t be able to figure this out on his own and so he called reinforcements.
So he knew immediately who to call.
He Did What We All Would Do
First, he called his father, Gerald, who came to inspect the situation. Simon later told reporters, “I was just terrified the whole house was going to vanish.”
It kept getting worse, as pieces of pavement kept coming up and the large opening into the earth continued further and further down into the ground. Their worst fear was that it was a sinkhole, which could really be dangerous.
Sinkholes Can Appear Out of Nowhere
Sinkholes tend to appear out of nowhere and when they do, they can be brutal. They form suddenly and with time they can get increasingly enormous in size. Some sinkholes are big enough that they can literally swallow houses and even entire communities.
Simon was lucky, though. It wasn’t a sinkhole that was forming on his driveway.
It was something else entirely. But what?
The Two Started to Dig
Simon and his father started digging and removing pieces of pavement. As they kept unearthing the driveway, they started to get the idea that something here was man-made and nothing due to nature.
It was as though something was intentionally covered by earth with the goal to not be found. But despite the attempts to stay hidden, here Simon and his father were about discover something.
It Was a Work in Progress
The process was slow but the father-son duo stayed determined to get to the bottom of the hole and discover its hidden purpose.
It now became impossible for Simon to park his car in the driveway, but that was the least of Simon’s worries at this point.
What was going to become of this hole?
Finally! They See Something
Simon and his father were about to stop the digging when they finally saw something. They discovered a ladder within the opening in the ground. It was rusted and old, and extended deep into the hole.
So it was clear now that the hold was indeed man-made. But they had so many questions and were starting to really wonder what was going on! They were admittedly scared but more so excited.
Fear of the Unknown
The first few steps of the ladder were the only parts visible with all the mud and dirt in the way. After the hole was bigger now, Simon wanted to explore further with the help of some modern technology.
He used his cell phone and a selfie stick, and descended into the black pit. He was eager to find out the big secret! Mind you, he was fearful too. It’s the fear of the unknown that’s the scariest of all.
An Underground Compartment
Simon was able to make out one important detail. It became clear to him that it was an underground compartment of some sort.
He realized that under his driveway was at least one, and maybe more, hidden chambers.
Soon, the project would prove itself as meaningful to Simon.
A Meaningful Project
Simon did some research on the area where he was living, and things started to become clear. This project become something meaningful to the homeowner who was discovering something interesting with his father.
Simon bought the home for half a million dollars, and the house was built back in 1970. But the land itself was used long before the building of any house
They Missed one Important Detail
Simon bought the home from an elderly couple who were also the original owners of the home. But there was one important detail that they didn’t tell Simon about.
Maybe the old couple didn’t think it was important, or that the space under the driveway had been so well covered that there would never be a need to disclose the information.
Soon, the father-son duo would confirm their suspicions.
Confirming Their Suspicions
The hidden chamber(s) wasn’t meant to hold the test of time. Simon and his father Gerald had a pretty good idea of what they were unearthing. But they needed to be sure of it.
After looking on the internet, they confirmed their suspicions. As they learned, many similar sites had been uncovered around the United Kingdom. And there’s a reason for what happened.
It Used to be Open Land
After some investigation, they found out that the property where Simon now stood used to be an open field before the elderly couple bought the land and built their home.
But the paperwork didn’t reveal why there was a massive hole in the driveway. The documents only stated that there was nothing but empty land where the house now exists.
So who knows the true story?
A Big Secret
Some big secret had been left off of the property records and it could be intentional. It may have been built in an era in which proper documentation wasn’t the most imperative thing.
Once Simon and Gerald started to do some research on the land, they understood that the land was in a strategic place near a specific neighborhood. And the time it was built was the most telling.
A Time of War
Someone by the name of Sir John Anderson was given the task of preparing Britain for war with Nazi Germany. It was 1938 and he needed to protect the country’s citizens from the impending WAR.
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So he came up with a strategy in which he and a team of engineers carried out. They created cheap and simple underground shelters that could literally be buried in people’s backyards. The idea was to be close enough for them to run to in the moment of sudden impact.
Two Million Shelters
The chambers’ walls were metal. The flexible metal walls were to be a better alternative to concrete. Over two million of these bomb shelters were distributed around the country.
But this was what Simon and Gerald discovered from their research. The actual hole in the backyard had something different and it wasn’t the typical Anderson-designed bomb shelter that they read about.
So what was it exactly? And what did they know for sure?
The City Was in Panic
They did find out, however, that the shelter on their property was indeed built around 1938, and not long after a bomb landed in the area near Luton.
The citizens of the area were in a panic, of course. They now understood all too well that they were a target for incoming bombs. So they had a plan of their own.
A Community Shelter
The community came up with a plan and they did it quickly. They made a community shelter that was made even better than the ones Anderson built. And this was what lay below Simon’s driveway.
San Diego Yesterday
This shelter was made of brick and there were at least two rooms inside. During WWII, the German air force tactically bombed parts of London, Liverpool and Birmingham, which was close to the neighborhood Simon lived in.
As Simon and his father dug deeper, they found some artifacts that had dated evidence. In one of the chambers, they found a clipping from the Herald newspaper with a date from the days of WWII.
A headline read: “Luton Airport is this the end?” The worry clearly was that the airport would be bombed by the Germans.
They found more than just that.
They Found More Evidence
The bomb shelter was stocked full of food and water for those who had to spend time inside. People were there for days at a time.
“It’s incredible to think it has all been made by hand,” Marks reported. The walls were really sturdy and well-built that even decades later it was still intact.
Dig, Dig, Dig
Despite knowing what it was that they found under the earth, Simon and his father continued to keep clearing out the bomb shelter. “Since Saturday it’s been a case of dig, dig, dig. We’re about five feet down at the moment so it’s just another five feet to go until it’s finished.
“I think we’re going to have to get a skip in because there’s so much rubbish to get rid of,” Simon stated.
They ended up discovering something else, too.
The Story Went Viral
Simon said how, “One of the walls has been bricked up. I’m 90 percent sure we won’t find out any more rooms but we don’t know. They might have bricked up one of the walls when the house was built to make way for the foundations. If that’s the case we’ll just have to leave it.”
Once the story went viral, Simon’s driveway flooded with news reporters. But as far as the attention goes, Simon said the spotlight wasn’t his interest.
An Obligation to His Country
According to Simon, he worked hard and long to dig up the shelter because he felt an obligation to his country’s rich history.
The way he sees it, history can’t just be swept under the rug. And it shouldn’t be forgotten. Things from the past should be preserved and remembered for future generations.
Their Plans for the Shelter
Simon and his father plan to restore the shelter and preserve it. The two agree that just because the war is over, it doesn’t mean that it should be buried or overlooked.
They want to maintain the shelter for future generations to see and learn from it.
And that’s exactly what would become it. Just like this other shelter that schools travel to.
Another Shelter Discovered by a Student
In 2014, a bomb shelter was discovered on the grounds of Stoke Community Primary School in Medway, Kent by a student. The student’s name is Harvey Cotton and he was participating in a school activity outside.
The courtyard used to be an orchard. Harvey then spotted a block of concrete. His teachers and the school caretaker went to investigate immediately. They uncovered a staircase, bricked up wall and a wooden door behind it.
But what did they find inside?
A Lightbulb Moment
The caretaker and the students were astonished when they found items covered in a blanket of dust from decades gone by. There were milk bottles and other untouched items.
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But it was the light bulb that amazed them. It actually still worked after all these years! The school did some investigation and it was an Anderson shelter that was used by the students of the school during the war.
It only makes sense for a school that finds something historical such as a bomb shelter to use it for educational purposes. And that’s what they did.
The school restored the shelter with the students of the primary school in order to give them hands on lessons about WWII. And what a unique experience!
So Much History
The school’s principal, Anita Meggs reported, “There is so much history in the school, which has been here since the 1800s.” She also explained how the shelter was to be used for lessons.
The plan was also to invite older villagers, who may have used the shelter, to come and share their experiences during the war.
There was a similar story about a shelter found when a couple was gardening!
One Day While Gardening
A couple from Southampton stumbled upon an Anderson shelter when they were removing a mound of earth in their garden. Graham and Lizzie Hendra didn’t expect to meet history that day.
“We were tidying up the garden and there’s always been a bug heap of dirt behind the garage – like a massive compost heap. So the gardener dug it out and he said there was a load of metal,” Graham reported.
It Was in Amazing Condition
They were shocked when they saw that the shelter was in good condition. “It’s in an amazing condition. There’s no door – just a bit of tin holding the dirt back. It makes you think how horrible it must have been to be in there,” said Graham.
The couple believed that maybe the shelter would better suit a local school or someone who would actually use it.
They Asked the Experts
Martin Stanley, a London-based Anderson shelter expert, said, “Just from the photos it looks like it’s in its original position. It may well have been a builder who made it because it looks incredibly strong. I suspect someone put it a lot of effort.”
The British government gave out many Anderson shelters to people for free. Stanley said how preserving these shelters is really important because there are very few left.
It Would Be a Real Shame
Most of the shelters were removed after the war to use the iron. Others were then converted into garden or pig sheds. “It would be a real shame if it was lost for good.”
Martin Stanley has an Anderson shelter of his own in his back yard garden. It’s partially sticking out from the ground, covered with plants and flowers. He keeps it there and preserves it as an artifact.
It’s Quite a Feature
When Stanley moved into his home 30 years ago, instead of ridding it from his property, he uses it for storage. He also opens the shelter for school parties and TV companies. “We’re very fond of it now. It’s quite a feature,” he said.
Martin Stanley’s neighbor also has an Anderson shelter in his garden, its condition is also pretty much how it was in the early 1940s.
The Shelter Came in Handy
Robert McConnell, Stanley’s neighbor, said that the entire area opposite his house was destroyed during a bombing. A bomb fell on the house, but the shelter survived it all.
“The Germans had put up these awful rockets and the whole of that area; every house was destroyed – 17 people were killed.”