waterside air raid shelters

New Forest Waterside Air Raid Shelters Discovered from WW2

Update 18th October 2020: We have now found more air raid shelters in the Waterside area. Keep scrolling down for a video update and new photo

Last weekend my son I decided to find all the existing WW2 air raid shelters that we could in the Waterside area of the New Forest (the Southampton side). For those that don’t know, the Waterside area consists of places such as Badminston Common, Blackfield, Calshot, Dibden, Fawley, Hythe, Holbury, Langley, Marchwood, and Mopley.

We’d heard rumours that there were still some existing air raid shelters on the Badminston Common area of the New Forest Waterside but had never seen them before… due to how off the beaten track they are.

However, after some online research and the help of social media we identified the GPS co-ordinates for 4 air raid shelters in the New Forest Waterside area. We put them into our GPS device, grabbed the GoPro, and went to find them.

Here’s what happened.

We found 4 air raid shelters in total in the New Forest

I hope you enjoyed the video!

In total, we ended up discovering and exploring 4 air raid shelters in and around the Badminston Common, Cadland, Mopley and Langley areas.

We were helped out by finding an old document online which listed each one with their co-ordinates in which we then navigated to. The 4 air raid shelters we found appear to be known as the following names (with their maritime archaeology IDs in brackets).

  • 2 Badminston Common Air Raid Shelters (MA1438 & MA1146)
  • Cadland Air Raid Shelter (MA1141)
  • Sprat’s Down Air Raid Shelter (MA1439)

1. Badminston Common air raid shelter

What’s strange about the two air raid shelters in the Badminston Common and Mopley area near Langley and Fawley is that there are no houses nearby.

badminston common air raid shelter
This air raid shelter is on the edge of Badminston Common.

2. Badminston Common and Mopley air raid shelter

This would make you wonder why the bomb shelters were there, but after looking at a map from 1938 you can see that there used to be two properties nearby. Those residences no longer exist, so we might see if we can find the ruins another day.

mopley air raid shelter
This second air raid shelter is not far, near Mopley and Badminston Common.

2. Cadland air raid shelter

This one is referred to as the Cadland Estate air raid shelter, but is on the Badminston Drove lane. This is a residential area, with the shelter being in an overgrown area just opposite one of the houses.

air raid shelter near cadland estate
The Badminston Drove air raid shelter is on a quiet lane with houses.

3. Sprat’s Down air raid shelter

This is a little further down the road from the one on Badminston Drove, on a  country lane near the top of Badminston Common against some farmland. It appears to cross the boundary of private farmland and a public right of way, as a barbed wire fence currently runs through the doorway. It appears to be used to store some old junk.

sprats down air raid shelter
Up a dirt track, you can find this air raid shelter near farm land in Sprats Down.

The design of the air raid shelters we found are quite unusual in that they are rectangular and make from bricks – they could pass for storage units of some type.

Because of this, they are commonly mistaken.

People who have them on in near their land won’t often know they are air raid shelters. You might find them on farms, near schools, and factories or any places where people would have needed protection from bombs during World War 2.

Due to their useful shape, they are often used to store things in, with the people using them having no idea of their historical significance.

This lack of understanding is also why there are no records of how many survive today, because they aren’t getting logged as air raid shelters.

Update: More air raid shelters found

The more you explore and research, the more you find. And that’s exactly been the case with air raid shelters in the Hythe and Waterside area. A few weeks after the original video, I discovered 3 more locations – you can view the finds in the video below, followed by the videos. I will not be giving the locations of them as two are are on private land, and another is right next to someone’s house.

5. Marchwood air raid shelter

This one is in a private garden, and used to be visible from the road as you can see on this image taken from Google Earth.

marchwood air raid shelter
This one is no longer visible from the road, but you can see it on this image taken from Google Maps in 2012.

6. Hythe and Butts Ash air raid shelter

This one is in a field and is now used for shelter by horses. There has been some debate over its purpose, and whether it was in fact an air raid shelter or not. Some social media commenters believe it could be wartime, but used as a generator room. This one is certainly open to debate.

butts ash hythe bomb shelter
Whilst listed by the Pillbox Study Group as an air raid shelter, there has been some debate. If you have any information, please email me.

7. Blackfield and Holbury air raid shelter

This one is near farmland. Unfortunately it’s been filled with rubble and rubbish and you can get into it.

blackfield and holbury
I managed to look inside. One door has been bricked up, the other one filled with rubble and junk.

Other New Forest air raid shelters and WW2 heritage

My son and I regularly do explores like this, and you can see some of those on my YouTube channel which I link to below, or on this blog:

If you want to see more videos like this, subscribe to my YouTube channel.


Considering how accessible these air raid shelters are in, it’s really surprising what great condition it’s in. There is little graffiti, which is extremely unusual for an underground WW2 bunker or bomb shelter – certainly compared to others we’ve explored in Dorset and Hampshire recently.

Let’s hope they all stay this way and are preserved for future generations of visitors.

And finally, if you do visit it, please do respect the place, the local residents, and if you can and have the time, take any rubbish you find in it and put into a nearby bin.

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