London Road Tunnel Shelter

 Created 25-08-2001    Last update 01-05-2008

General Information


London Road Shelter

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 Wymering Shelter

The main entrance

Although there were two tunnel shelters built in Portsdown, it was the Wymering tunnel shelter that received all of the publicity, especially during the war years. Only much later can clues to its location be found in the media. The Portsmouth City records often mention the two shelters collectively, but never reveal the precise location of the London Road tunnel shelter.

I located the London Road shelter by studying the Wymering Shelter layout, and then applying this to suitable locations in London Road. The only real candidate was an old chalk quarry, formerly a caravan park, but now containing permanent housing - Cliffdale Gardens.

The access road leads up to a chalk cliff face, and behind a car park at the top is a back filled recess in the base of the cliff. However, the back filling is some 12 inches short from the roof, and it is just possible to see the blocked off, east escape route, located just inside. The roof of the tunnel is quite low, due to the back-filling of the area.

Since finding the shelter, I have had the location confirmed by several locals who actually used the shelter as children during WWII, and from plans provided by Portsmouth City Museums. Most people it seems, walked several miles each night to make use of its protection. 

I finally managed to find the Main Entrance, backfilled, covered up and hidden behind some dense undergrowth, 50 yards to the West of the East Escape Route.

Because the London Road shelter is in such good condition and is technically accessible, there have been calls by some local people to open it up to the public on a limited basis. I am personally against this for the following reasons:

  • The entrance area is peacefully residential as as such is completely unsuited to host a 'museum', especially with the inevitable cafe and giftshop!

  • The Health and Safety provisions which would need to be made such as: emergency escape routes, lighting, handrails, disabled access, fire precautions etc. would completely wreck the World War Two feel of the place forever.

  • The good condition of the shelter is presumably due to the way it has been sealed and undisturbed since WWII; altering this situation may cause its degradation.

  • The shelters history and photographs of the interior are available on this website, and although these will obviously not convey the sensation of a real visit they are a (free) visual historic record of our WWII heritage available to all.

In short, the London Road Shelter should remain as a sealed Time Capsule.
Please note that the tunnel entrances have been completely sealed and access to the shelter is not possible. The overhanging chalk cliff can at times produce rock falls so moving beyond the paved area must be considered dangerous.

Thanks to Mark Tranter from Portsmouth City Council for his co-operation

and to Peter Cobb for his collaboration.


Aerial photo site location     Panoramic photo site location

Google Earth Aerial View

Grid Ref SU664064

Visit this site - Portsdown Walk No1

London Road shelter plan

Plan of the London Road Tunnel Shelter as it appears on the original plans. It could officially hold 2,535 people, but this was increased to double that in times of need.


A Western escape route
B Main entrance. This was concrete lined up to the blast wall, the only concrete lining in the whole shelter - now totally buried
C Eastern escape route - accessible but blocked off.
D Blast wall built of brick
E Shelter wardens office
F Canteen
G First aid post
H Toilets
J Ventilation / rescue shafts
K Emergency generator room


Large scale plan

A plan of the shelter, made in 1951, showing its relationship with the surrounding area. The 10 tunnels heading off into the chalk are 40 feet between centres. After completion 7 were closed off and 3 remained as entrances.

With thanks to Joe Lister for photo interpretation

London Road tunnel shelter approach road

The access road to the London Road Tunnel Shelter at Cliffdale Gardens. Under these cliffs is 30,000 sq ft of shelter space.

Location of the London Road tunnel shelter

The London Road Tunnel Shelter east escape route is located 15 feet behind the wire fence. The tunnels go back 160 feet into the chalk, incorporating a west wing and an east wing connected together. Photo taken in 2001.


General Information


London Road Shelter

page 1 of 5


 Wymering Shelter