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Last Updated: Friday, 21 October 2005, 08:18 GMT 09:18 UK
Wartime school tunnels demolished
Tunnel under North School in Ashford
Former pupils at the school returned to see their wartime shelter
An underground network of tunnels where a generation of Kent school children huddled for protection against wartime air raids will be demolished on Friday.

The concrete tunnels at the North School in Ashford were uncovered last week for the first time since 1945.

But the decision was taken to remove them because of building work.

In October 1940, 14 air raids forced pupils underground, a handful of whom have been invited back to the school to revisit their former shelter.

'Majestically walked'

Gerald Amos, 77, said that on a number of occasions the bombs fell alarmingly close.

"One morning the planes dropped bombs on the allotment, in the sand pit and on the waste ground near the station."

Ted Major, also 77, added: "When there was an air raid the teacher used to order us outside and we majestically walked down the corridor, down the stairs and came down here.

"They carried on teaching you with whatever they had available."

But 78-year-old Peter Southern admitted the teachers often had trouble keeping the full attention of the pupils as "we were more interested in what was going on outside".

The tunnels were opened up for a final time before the building work starts to give present pupils a chance to see what wartime life was like.

Deputy head teacher Lesley Ellis said: "It's been absolutely tremendous not just as a relic of World War II but also as part of citizenship for students to realise these historical sights are here today and gone tomorrow."

The concrete from the tunnels will be recycled and used to build foundations for future projects.

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