Se­cret wartime bunker re­vealed un­der town hall

Midweek Visiter - - Front Page - BY KATE LALLY kate.lally@trin­i­tymir­ @kate­lal­lyx

DID you know that there is a se­cret war bunker tucked away un­der one of Mersey­side’s town halls?

The docks made Boo­tle a key tar­get in World War II and up to 90% of the town’s homes were dam­aged dur­ing the Liver­pool Blitz.

The es­cort ships which pro­tected the con­voys cross­ing the ocean dur­ing the Bat­tle of the At­lantic were based at the town’s Glad­stone Dock. Around 4,000 peo­ple were killed in the Mersey­side area.

Un­der­neath Boo­tle Town Hall lies an al­most untouched World War II bunker and de­con­tam­i­na­tion room.

A haunt­ing tun­nel leads to the bunker, which was known as ‘King Arthur’s Room’.

The room is now used as stor­age, but dur­ing the Blitz, it housed hun­dreds of ter­ri­fied peo­ple.

It is also thought that dur­ing the war, the Town Hall base­ment was used as a con­trol cen­tre where in­for­ma­tion was an­a­lysed, and be­came a base for a radar air de­fence sys­tem.

A fur­ther crawl through and you come to the de­con­tam­i­na­tion and cleans­ing sta­tion.

There is an air­lock door at each end of the room con­sist­ing of two gas tight doors.

On the wall there is a sign that says ‘Un­dress­ing room – Re­move un­der­cloth­ing and place in bins’

Boo­tle Town Hall is open for pub­lic tours, dur­ing which you can see war mem­o­ra­bilia such as first aid guid­ance, gas masks, as well as a huge num­ber of his­toric items.

The war bunker and de­con­tam­i­na­tion room, how­ever, are not open to the pub­lic.

Dur­ing WWII, Boo­tle suf­fered huge loss of life. One notable in­ci­dent was a di­rect hit on a Co-Op air raid shel­ter on the cor­ner of Ash Street and Stan­ley Road.

The ex­act to­tal of ca­su­al­ties is un­clear, though dozens of bod­ies were re­cov­ered and placed in a tem­po­rary mor­tu­ary which it­self was later de­stroyed by in­cen­di­aries with over 180 corpses in­side.

Boo­tle Town Hall it­self was sig­nif­i­cantly dam­aged, but has since been re­built.

● Above left and above, views of the de­con­tam­i­na­tion room in the World War II bunker un­der Boo­tle Town Hall, right

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