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Relive the blitz with air raid shelter experience at Staffordshire museum

Staffordshire | Entertainment | Published:

An air raid shelter complete with the sounds of Spitfires zooming overhead and the vibrations of bombs blasting nearby is being developed at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum.

The £5,000 Project Blitz 1940 has been in the pipeline since last year and is set to be unveiled at the DMS Whittington site on Fathers' Day – June 18.

It will see an old disused pumping station transformed into the latest attraction at the museum.

Hilary Hinks, chairman of The Friends of the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, told the Express & Star: "About a year ago the friends group decided they wanted to do a project and we had this outbuilding which was completely unused that reminded us of a World War II public air raid shelter.

"So we thought it would be a very good feature to experience what a shelter was like."

She added: "While you are in this shelter sitting on genuine World War II benches you will be in the dark, hearing the Spitfires going overhead, the fire engines going past, while you feel the vibrations and reverberations through the wooden floor from bombs going off.

"As far as we are aware there isn't a genuine replica World War II shelter for the public to experience nearby and we are hoping this will be quite a useful attraction for all of our visitors.

"And maybe some of the older people will quite like to think back to when they experienced it for real.

Education volunteer Val Ruston in an existing shelter

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"It is going to be a wonderful addition."

Up to 20 people will be able to cram into the shelter while the 'experience' is likely to last around 10 minutes.

When it is finished it will be called the Smart Street Shelter, named after former Staffordshire soldier Dennis Smart who volunteers at the museum and is helping with the development.

While the project has benefitted from donations so far, including all of the bricks for the building being given for free by Ibstock, volunteers are also carrying out their own fundraising mission.

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On the day it is unveiled a number of volunteers will be cycling a 40-mile route from Coventry Cathedral, which was blitzed in 1940, to the Staffordshire Regiment Museum. The group is welcoming donations for the fundraiser which can be made by enquiring at the museum.

The next event at the venue will be a discovery day held this forthcoming Bank Holiday Monday.

The museum will be providing an assortment of extras, in costume for visitors to interact with, including a First World War tunneller and even a British redcoat from the time of the Napoleonic Wars. There will also be extra military vehicles on-site featuring radio controlled tanks and a 'handling collection' of weapons which will be available for 'hands-on' inspections.

The military museum is dedicated to preserving the history of the Staffordshire Regiment (The Prince of Wales's), its antecedent regiments and successor regiment, the Mercian Regiment, from 1705 to the present.

Visit www.staffordshireregimentmu seum.com for more information.

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