Talbot Heath School’s air-raid shelters continue to inspire interest from many quarters and one of the four situated in the grounds was recently opened to visitors for the Dorset Architectural Heritage Week 2014. Over 150 visitors came to the Rothesay Road school to learn about the history of the bunkers which were built at the outbreak of the Second World War to provide places of safety for pupils and staff during Luftwaffe bombing raids. Each shelter measures twenty metres long and two metres wide and high and they could shelter up to 125 pupils and staff at any one time; the school’s archives show that the ‘bunkers’ were used extensively, day and night, throughout the war. Many of the visitors were surprised by the cold and comfortless conditions that the girls would have endured, and many stated that it was ‘enjoyable to visit such a unique space.’
Professional photographer Adam Lynk also took advantage of the unique space himself for a recent photo shoot with renowned artists Will Rochfort, an acclaimed oil painter, and sculptor Will Turner. Adam was working on a series of taking artists from their usual environment and photographing them. He said, ‘I had a tour round the amazing site and the bunker just led itself to the shot. I wanted it to be very dark noir image that worked in contrast to the really light good humour that both guys have.’
In the spring of 2011, the shelter was re-opened and renovated as part of the School’s 125th anniversary celebrations. Since its renovation, the air-raid shelter has become affectionately known as ‘The Bunker’, it has since been used as a ‘Living History’ classroom for Senior and Junior School pupils, as well as becoming a resource for the wider community. The Junior School has run ‘Evacuee Days’ in there and the Senior School History Department uses it regularly for Upper 4 lessons about Bournemouth and the School during World War II. The school is always delighted to accommodate anyone who wishes to use this fantastic and unique resource.