A Mysterious Building
While out earlier today with the Clark Pack of Merstham Cub Scouts on a sponsored walk up Reigate Hill to raise money for Merstham Aid Project (MAP) we came across this structure, which the National Trust have cleared the overgrown trees from and want to know more about.
It’s just along the track from Reigate Fort, a late 19th Century construction that was updated during both World Wars. During the Second World War Reigate Hill was one of the key points on the outer London defence ring. It commands the countryside to the South for at least a dozen miles, you have a clear view of Gatwick Airport and beyond.
You can see from this view that what looks like a concrete structure is in fact made of brick and faced with a half inch of concrete (or something remarkably similar looking, I’m not an expert on these things). Only the top part of the building is above ground, most of it is buried in the hill-side.
One of my first thoughts on seeing it was that it might be some sort of air raid shelter, and that’s what some of the cubs offered too. However when I walked round it I saw that it had large windows all along the front of the building (what I take to be the front, if the trees were cleared it would have a fantastic view over Surrey and Sussex). These windows are barred, but those seem to be recent additions by the National Trust to protect it rather than originals.
This appears to me to be an entrance point. However a closer look shows that there is a concrete retainer below the bars. If it was a proper doorway then you’d expect there to be stairs down between the brick retaining walls and an open space large enough for a person to get in. Either someone has half-concreted the doorways, or there never were doors here. Any ideas?
It’s a bit blurred, but I put my phone through the bars to get a picture of inside the building. It’s separated into three rooms along the way with an extra division of the Eastern room (see pic below). A fair amount of rubbish seems to have collected inside, including a shopping trolley! The building looks tall enough for an adult to be comfortable standing up inside.
This is another view of the inside. The Western end of the building is a different layout from the Eastern end. The Eastern end shown above has a small room at the back, my money would be on it being the toilet, especially as there are a couple of round ceramic pipes coming out of the Eastern side of the building (see below).
There is a banner up on the path side of the building. The National Trust are looking for help in identifying the building, how old it is and what has it been used for? If you have any ideas, or even better you actually know then please leave some comments and I’ll pass them on.
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