What lies beneath: Demolition reveals chilling reminder of war

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THERE will be keen interest to learn what the archaeological excavations taking place in South Shields’ Market Place may turn up, if anything.

The fabled tunnels, perhaps.

Because you never know what lies below.

That has certainly proved the case with the old Shields Gazette building in Chapter Row whose demolition to make way for a planned new cinema may have been thought complete.

However, it turns out to have had one last surprise to deliver, which has been the discovery of voids beneath the building - bunkers as they’ve been described.

Thank you to those readers who’ve sent me pictures of the remains of what I am pretty sure are the old Gazette staff air raid shelters.

I had heard of them, but never saw them.

How chilling to have a reminder slap bang in the town centre of that fearful time 70 years and more ago.

How often they were used, I don’t know - numerous times, possibly, especially during that period in late 1941 when the town centre was getting hammering.

But while they may have been able to save the staff, they couldn’t alas save the building, seen here after the raid on September 30, 1941, which destroyed the greater portion of the offices (though the paper still printed the next day).