Our Heritage Open Days are on Saturday 21 & Sunday 22 September 2019.
On each day from 10:00 am until 3:15 pm we will be offering visitors free guided tours. To book your places click: HERE
Booking available from 12 August (12:00) to 19 September (16:00)
Heritage Open Days (13-22 September 2019) is England’s largest grass roots heritage festival involving over 40,000 volunteers and 5,000 events & we’re proud to be taking part. For information about other local events see: www.rth.org.uk/BHOD19
‘Take Shelter!’ is the only original WW2 Air Raid Shelter open to the public in the South of England, and our immersive museum allows visitors to experience what life was like for children in Brighton during the war years.
In 2019, our Heritage Open Days fall on the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 so it’s an especially pertinent time to visit. In 2017 & 2018 our HOD tours sold out – so avoid disappointment & book your place now!
Hidden away under the playground at Downs Junior School is an original air raid shelter. Constructed in 1939, the shelter is the largest of three at the school and is the only one still accessible. The Trenches, as they were known at the time, are a series of interconnecting tunnels made from pre-cast concrete panels approximately 3 metres below the playground. With bench seating along each corridor the shelter had a capacity for 300 pupils, and was also used by the local community at night. After the two main staircase entrances were removed and sealed after the war, the shelter remained hidden away for over 30 years until it was discovered in 1985 during a routine drain inspection. Initial refurbishment was carried out in 2012, and then after major restoration work the shelter was opened as an immersive museum in 2016.
Visitors will experience what life was like during the war years with first hand stories brought to life with rare local photographs, archive video clips and a bombing simulation.
The original staircase entrances have been removed over time so access is currently quite limited and access is only possible via a man-hole. Visitors will therefore need to be able to climb down a short ladder with side rails to access the space.
Max 10 people per tour/session. 45 minutes We will have a refreshments stall and also a selection of branded gifts to buy including ‘Sheltered Lives’, a collection of stories and memories by ex-pupils who experienced the shelters as pupils during WW2.
The shelter is under the top playground so please use the Ditchling Road entrance to Downs Junior School (adjacent to Grantham Road). Our free guided tours start every 15 minutes from 10:00 until 15:15 and must be booked in advance. Our tours start promptly so visitors need to arrive and check-in for their pre-booked tours at least 5 minutes before the start time. While we will do our best to accommodate visitors who arrive late and miss their start time, will be offering any tickets not collected at the time of the start of the tours to walk-in visitors. If we are fully booked it may not be possible to offer alternative times so please arrive in good time.
Our pop-up gift shop serving refreshments will be open from 1000 each day.