Tunnel vision

Fan Bay Deep Shelter

Fan Bay Deep Shelter - Credit: Archant

Excitement has been growing at the White Cliffs of Dover, where a system of underground tunnels from the Second World War is being investigated at Fan Bay.

Fan Bay Deep Shelter was built in the 1940s as accommodation and protection for the men serving at the gun battery above.

They were abandoned after the war and almost forgotten until the National Trust purchased the land in 2012 after a successful public appeal raised £1.2m in just 133 days. The tunnels have remained in excellent condition and are believed to be the largest, best-preserved deep shelter in Dover. As such, they are of significant archaeological interest.

The National Trust, along with expert volunteers and special interest groups, has carried out extensive research and excavation work and is now looking for volunteers to help run guided tours of the tunnels when they open to the public in spring this year.

Jon Barker, Visitor Experience Manager at the White Cliffs of Dover, says: “We have thoroughly enjoyed exploring Fan Bay Deep Shelter, benefitting hugely from the expert partners and volunteers who have helped us research the history and excavate the site. Now, as we move into 2015, we’re looking for more volunteers, who would like to help us show the tunnels to the public, leading tours and greeting groups as they arrive.”

Two kinds of roles are available. The National Trust is looking for people who can meet groups at the tunnel entrance to check tickets, talk about the project and make sure that tours leave on time.

They will be asked to learn about the history of the tunnels and the project to excavate them so they can chat to waiting visitors and answer questions as they arise.

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Tour guides are also sought to show groups around the tunnels and to bring its fascinating stories to life. The visit will be an adventure and the guides will take people on guided torch-lit tours of the tunnels.

The guides will be responsible for looking after the group while in the tunnels, so volunteers will need to learn all the health and safety procedures involved in sharing the history of this unusual site.

In return for their time, the National Trust will provide equipment, induction training, reasonable travel costs and all the other benefits that its volunteers receive, including access to fun social events, media support and training on the job.

Jon adds: “Our team has grown increasingly passionate about the Fan Bay Deep Shelter as it has revealed more and more about its history. It’s not very often that you get the chance to join a project of such historical interest and play such a large part in interpreting it to the public.” n

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