'The Trenches' Museum

An educational resource
An original World War Two air-raid shelter in the grounds of Whitehawk Primary School has been opened and developed as a museum and educational resource.  This kind of shelter was called ‘The Trenches’ and this shelter was first opened in January 1940.

Recreating war-time conditions
The inside was lined with benches where the children would have sat during an air raid; they would enter the shelter, carrying their gas masks, on hearing the air raid siren and would stay in the shelter anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours. They would return to their classrooms once the all clear siren was sounded. The activities of the school (then the Whitehawk Senior School) where recorded in a shelter log book. The original school log book is held at the East Sussex Record Office .

Regular tours
Tours of the shelter are regularly given to children of Whitehawk Primary School and other visiting schools and the wider community. The tours are given by Mr. Dudley Button who is the museum curator.   The museum contains displays of war-time artefacts which are used to help illustrate for the children what life was like during the war.

Part of the Home Front Project
You can learn more about ‘The Trenches’ Museum and see a video of a tour at the museum web site. The web site is the work of Screen Archive South East who worked in partnership with children from Whitehawk Primary School to explore the relevance and history of the Second World War in the Home Front Project.

Comments about this page

  • There was one of these shelters in the gardens of Montpelier Crescent for use by the local residents and by my old school Montpelier College that was at No. 25.
    Also, during early 1940, the wine cellars of the Royal Pavilion were converted into shelters; you went down the steps at the north end of the Pavilion next to the garden and inside the cellars had wooden bunks with chicken wire for the spring and you brought blankets and pillows. We used to go in at about 7-9pm and were turned out at 5am and we used to have a mug of tea in a workmens’ cafe at the bottm of Edward Street. The escape hatch came up from the cellars onto the terrace on the east side next to the road in the grounds.

    By Ken Ross (14/11/2008)

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