I never personally got around to asking for a look in their basement and ‘Past Times’ has since closed making that currently impossible.
Fortunately for us all, professional photographer Andrew Davies got these excellent shots and has kindly given me permission to share them here.
There was a report in the Gazette in 2007, but they never gained access to get any photos, as the report point out this original shelter was for 367 people and would have covered the basements of numerous shops, although after the war it seems logical that they would have been seperated again so the remaining area is not the full size.
On close inspection this sign mentions ‘Defence Regulation 23a’ this appears to tie in directly with an entry from Hansard from 23rd November 1939 which mentions that regulation being about the provision of air-raid shelters.
A recently published book ‘Defence of the UK – Middlebrough’ suggests the rear building was a clothing factory owned by Dorman Stewart the rainwear makers. The book goes on to list numerous other converted basements used as shelters even larger than this one.
The ‘New Emporium’ and ‘Green Market’ each had room for 700, while the shelter under J. Newhouses shop another 400.
Images supplied courtesy of North East wedding photographer Andrew Davies , www.andrew-davies.com