Ellington Place Tunnel, Ramsgate

In May 2010 KURG were called to a development site off Ellington Place, Ramsgate by the Canterbury Archaeological Trust who had found two underground structures.
Ellington Girls School, which had been built in 1914 as Ellington School, had been demolished and the land cleared for housing development. The features were found during ground works in the North West sector of the site at TR 3721 6533. The first was a shaft just over a metre in diameter which had been cut through the chalk to a depth of over 5.8m. A brick dome that had been partly destroyed by the foundation works had once capped the shaft. It was quickly established that the shaft had been a cess-pit or deep soak-away and staining from its contents were clearly visible up to 1.8m from the bottom. Other shafts had been recorded by the developers on site including a very deep one which was almost certainly a well. The shafts were associated with a public house, the Cannon, which once stood on this part of the site.

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The second feature was a set of chalk tunnels in the south west of the site which were accessed via a hole in the bottom of a trench which had broken through the roof of a sloping stairway. The tunnels, 2m high by 1.3m wide, had been used as an air-raid shelter in both the First and Second World Wars by pupils and staff of the school whose buildings they ran under.
Although the shelter was utilised in the 1939-45 conflict it is almost certain that it was originally dug in the First World War as by 1917 all the schools in Ramsgate had shelters equipped with electric lighting and bench seating.
Ellington school was built in 1914 for 350 boys, 350 girls and 150 infants.

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The infant department moved to a new adjacent site in 1938. Each department had their own entrance stairway to the shelter accessed from outside the school building.
The remains of bench seating were found in the two longest passages and some remains of electric lighting were visible. Much graffiti from the 1940s was evident including a particularly fine drawing of the cartoon character ‘Popeye’.
Three stairways lead to the surface, all of which were sealed at the top with brick walls. Two vertical shafts in the roof of the main passage were capped at the surface with concrete slabs, and were probably construction shafts for the removal of spoil during excavation.

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Shortly after the KURG investigation the shaft and the tunnels were sealed and made safe so that the construction work could proceed.


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