Frustrated Gardener Who Couldn't Grow Grass Digs Up Lawn - And Finds WW2 Air Raid Shelter

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Jim Clark and his grand children Macey Vare (centre) and Olivia Vare with the World War II shelter. (SWNS)

Frustrated gardener Jim Clark spent 30 years trying to grow a decent lawn - only to find a Second World War air raid shelter under his patio.

Green-fingered Jim, 62, was left baffled for three decades because he couldn't get a decent amount of grass.

After digging up his entire lawn, to investigate the problem, he found a heavy duty concrete bunker built by an 'eccentric' previous owner to withstand Nazi bombs.

Jim has lived in the same house for 33 years, but had no idea there was a massive historic 'time capsule' buried under his scraggly lawn in Bedlington, Northumberland.

His garden is the size of three tennis courts, and the air raid shelter's roof is ten feet long by seven feet wide and covered in clay and rubble - stopping grass from growing.

Jim, a bike shop owner, said: 'I've been trying everything to get the grass to grow in that area for three decades - putting down turf, new seed, fertiliser, leaving the hose pipe running for three hours to soak the grass - but it's always been brown and dry.

'I'm just glad to get to the bottom of it after all this time. My wife came out and I'd unearthed this air raid shelter. She couldn't believe it, she thinks I'm crazy.

This is how Jim's back garden looked after he found the air raid shelter. (SWNS)
Task: Jim excavating his garden after making the find. (SWNS)
Inside the air raid shelter in Jim's garden. (SWNS)

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'It's fully intact, and it was built by the people who lived here before us. The roof and everything is there.

'The entrance is blocked up and we've broken in from the top.  It's not every day you uncover something like this from the Second World War.'

Jim, father to 32-year-old Penny and 31-year-old Jennifer, unearthed the air shelter out the back of his three-bedroom detached house.

The previous owner, 'eccentric' William Hall, was head surveyor at Bedlington Urban District Council.

He had even tried to build two graves for himself and his wife in his back garden in the 1960s - until an MP stepped in to prevent it.

Jim Clark uncovering a World War II air raid shelter in his garden. (SWNS)

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Jim, married to 60-year-old Christine, a management assistant at the Open University, added: 'I just decided I was going to tackle it.

'I thought I would find all sorts of rubble underneath the grass. I'd dug down when I came across some clay so I thought I'd dig that up too.

'I kept digging down, and about 13-14 inches I was still going. I didn't really know what to think, it was strange.

'Then all of a sudden, the spade hit something and I heard a metal sound. It was the cast iron roof of the shelter.

'To be honest it just about broke my hand, the force of it. That was when the penny dropped. I'd heard there might be an air shelter in the garden so I realised I'd found it.'

The shelter is made of two parts - the main shelter more sturdy - both covered by a cast-iron roof.

Both the main and the secondary shelter measure around four metres long, by two metres wide, and around 5.2 metres high each.

Jim added: 'The shelter is made with top quality building materials. The brick is first class, a really super job.'


Jim's garden before (left) and after the air raid shelter excavation. (SWNS)
The uncovered entrance to the newly-discovered air raid shelter. (SWNS)
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