happyworld - Man Makes Incredible Discovery Under His Own Driveway

A Mysterious Discovery

Not only did he find something rare and incredible, it was hidden on his own property, buried under his driveway! He was having a normal weekend when something strange caught his attention and he just couldn’t ignore it.
digs driveway
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An Ordinary Man, But Not For Long

Simon Marks, age 37, was an ordinary man living in Luton, a town in Bedfordshire, England, in 2016. He was working as a computer support worker at the time that he made the amazing discovery. Like any office worker, he went to work all week and enjoyed spending weekends with family and friends, taking a break from the stress of the week. This is what he was trying to do on the morning that he found something shocking.

The Life Of A Homeowner Can Be Surprising

Simon Marks was also a homeowner, which meant he could have encountered a number of problems on his property on any given day. There could have been a broken gutter to fix, a leaking roof to patch up, or weeds to pull. On a typical Saturday morning, Simon Marks could have encountered any of these problems. But what he encountered instead that day was something that was going to change his life forever.
driveway house

Some Unusual Car Trouble

Marks was going about his day, as usual, enjoying the weekend, but that was about to change. He had plans to go out that Saturday afternoon and began backing his black Vauxhall Zafira out of the driveway. Suddenly, he felt his front wheel get stuck on something. Marks was worried, thinking he had encountered a sinkhole in the driveway, or maybe a poorly constructed garden. As any homeowner would, he thought his plans were about to be ruined by an inconvenient problem.

Waiting For The Worst

Instead of trying to fix it right away, Marks did what many of us would do in a situation we weren’t sure how to handle – he called his father. Marks later said “I was just terrified the whole house was going to vanish.” He got out of the car and sent a photo to his dad of what seemed to be a crater that had opened up under his car to show him how bad the damage was.

Snooping Around The Mysterious Hole

As Marks waited for his father to come help him with the giant hole in his driveway, he decided to poke around a bit and try to figure out what had caused it. He started to remove the cracked paving stones from the driveway to see what the issue might be. As he slowly picked away at them, he started to think that maybe he found something. It was beginning to look like more than just a sinkhole.

Peering Down The Rabbit Hole

After moving some of the paving stones out of the way, Marks found what looked to him like a ladder protruding from the mud and soil beneath the stones of his driveway. He was shocked to see this and was curious about what it could possibly be. Since he was still waiting for his father to arrive, he decided not to dig further, but to try to see what the ladder might lead to down below.

The Handy Selfie Stick

Since Marks didn’t want to dig any further until his father got to his house, he went and grabbed his handy selfie stick to poke around down below. He stuck his phone down below with the camera on to see if he could possibly see anything in the dark underground cavern he had just stumbled upon. Marks began to wrap his head around the idea that this could be a really incredible discovery.

Another Big Discovery

Just four years before Marks uncovered the hole in his driveway, a family in a small town in Guatemala discovered something amazing. When they were remodeling their kitchen, the Ramirez family uncovered ancient Mayan murals concealed behind layers of paint. Archaeologists said the home was at least 300 years old and probably belonged to someone important to have those types of murals. If this could happen in a small town in Guatemala, who’s to say it couldn’t happen in a small town in England?

Close To Home

Well, it turned out it had happened in England before. Just a few hours south of Marks’ house, in Plymouth, a couple discovered that there was a medieval well hidden under their living room, most likely built by servants of Sir Francis Drake. The Steers had always wondered why part of their living room floor dipped, so when Colin Steer retired he decided to dig and find out. He even found a sword hidden in the well!

This Is Huge

Perhaps even more impressive than the well and even closer to Marks’ town, an even bigger discovery had just been made the same year Marks started digging up his driveway. A man in Wiltshire, England uncovered part of a mosaic under the floor of his barn. When archaeologists came to investigate, they discovered a large floor of an impressive Roman villa, perhaps belonging to an emperor. It’s discoveries like this, so close to home, that gave Marks hope that he had found something great.

Dad To The Rescue

When his father arrived, Simon told him everything that had happened and showed him the beginning of the ladder that was sticking out from down below. That was when the two men decided to start digging to see what they could find. They got to work removing buckets and buckets of mud, slowly clearing out the cavernous space below the driveway. Simon couldn’t believe that he had been living on top of such a well-buried secret!

The Ultimate DIY Project

Marks and his father didn’t have any big fancy tools or machines to help them, they were taking on this project with their own hands. The two men used shovels and buckets to slowly excavate the space. As they got deeper and deeper, the pile of mud in the driveway slowly grew and the space below the driveway seemed to get bigger and bigger. Marks’ father began to get an idea of what they had discovered.

The History Of The Land

Marks had bought the house for £400,000 from an elderly couple. They were the original owners and had built the house on the property in the 1970s, but they never thought to mention to Marks what had been below the land when they bought the property. It was clear that they know about it- somebody must have filled in the space with all that mud. They must have thought they filled it in well and it was sturdy enough.

A Sneaking Suspicion

After clearing out much of the mud from below, Marks’ 67-year-old father, Gerald, thought he had an idea of what they had found. He did a little bit of research to see if he could find photos of similar structures from the time period he believed it was from. After scouring the internet and using his knowledge of what was going on in the UK at the time, he knew what he and his son had found.

Mysterious Past

The whole area had been an open field before the original owners bought the property. Oddly enough, after they discovered the structure under Marks’ property, he and his father checked the ordnance surveys, which said that there was nothing but empty land on the property before it was bought and built upon. Did they somehow miss this major structure hidden beneath the ground? Or were they just not very concerned with documenting this piece of the country’s history?

A Piece Of History

After looking online for photos of other structures that looked like this one and checking the ordinances to try to confirm his suspicions, Gerald was pretty sure he had discovered some sort of a relic from World War II. The rusting of the metal on the ladder, even from the start, suggested it was old. They also knew it must have been empty and unused by the time the house was built in the 1970s. But what exactly was it?

The Legacy Of Sir John Anderson

In 1938, with World War II on the horizon, a man named Sir John Anderson was placed in charge of preparations for air raids in Britain. His team of engineers designed a cheap and simple shelter that could be buried in peoples’ backyards. It was made of flexible metal walls that could be hit by explosions without caving better than concrete walls. Two million of these were distributed, so they were very common. But this isn’t exactly what Marks found.

Duck and Cover

Gerald was petty sure by then that they had discovered another type of air raid shelter from World War II. But how could they know? Simon did some more research and found that there were several others designed like it in the area that had been built after a bomb landed in the area. What an incredible piece of history to discover in your own driveway! But they had only just begun to uncover the secrets below.

Deep Exploration

After they had cleared out enough to descend the ladder, Simon and Gerald went into the shelter and found themselves facing a mysterious doorway. Simon once again used his selfie stick to look down the corridor and see if it was safe to enter. He saw two rooms. The space was bigger than they had thought. It was easy to imagine the people who lived in the area back then taking shelter down there. But who were they hiding from?
bricks and door

The Enemy Strikes

During World War II, the German air force, known as the Luftwaffe, conducted a number of precision bombing raids on the United Kingdom and on its allies. The Luftwaffe infamously bombed parts of London, Liverpool, and Birmingham that were not far from Simon’s home. Not only did this information and the way the structure was built confirm their theory of what the space was used for, but the two men also found some artifacts from the time.
air raids

The Outdated Newspaper

Down in one of the rooms, the Marks’ men found a Herald newspaper from the time. It’s interesting to see what types of things made the news during the war in Britain. This paper showed that, despite the fighting, life was still going on as usual. Not only that, but since newspapers have publication dates, they could probably tell exactly when people were using this shelter to hide from the air strikes. Can you imagine what it was like?
newspaper

Underground Activities

Photos like this and the discovery of the newspaper show us how people killed time when they were hiding from enemy forces in air raid shelters like the one found below Marks’ house. It probably got a bit crowded down there, since everyone in the area had to squeeze together in the rooms. We don’t blame them for finding ways to distract themselves from the situation. They must have gotten a lot of reading done down there! But what about food?
people in shelter

Bottoms Up

Besides reading material, it looks like the people who hid down in Marks’ shelter also kept a supply of food and drinks down there. This was probably a smart idea- we can’t imagine being stuck down in a crowded room with nothing for sustenance! This old bottle was found down in one of the rooms of the air raid shelter. Someone must have been sipping from this, just waiting for the bombing above their heads to be over.
milk bottle

An Incredible Structure

Simon and Gerald couldn’t believe all the treasures they found preserved down below. “It’s incredible to think it has all been made by hand,” Simon said. The concrete was reinforced by bricks, probably for extra reinforcement to make sure nothing fell in on the people hiding inside. Simon was fascinated by the fact that this structure held up so well, despite all the years and the building that took place on top of it.

Going Deeper

Each day, Simon and Gerald worked away at the mud that filled the shelter, getting deeper and deeper into the structure, discovering more about this fascinating piece of history. Although they didn’t know much about how it was built or how sturdy it was, they were determined to uncover the entire thing. They hoped to determine that it was structurally sturdy enough that they wouldn’t have to fill it in. But how deep was it? They were about to find out.

More Than Six Feet Under

When reporters went to interview Simon and Gerald a few days after they began digging out the shelter, they had made great progress. Simon said, “Since Saturday it’s been a case of dig, dig, dig. We’re about five feet down at the moment so it’s just another five feet to go until it’s finished. I think we’re going to have to get a skip in because there’s so much rubbish to get rid of.” Wow, ten feet deep!
simon in shelter

Next Steps

When asked about what the next step in uncovering the shelter was, Marks said, “One of the walls has been bricked up. I’m 90 per cent sure we won’t find out any more rooms but we don’t know. They might have bricked up one of the walls when the house was built to make way for the foundations. If that’s the case we’ll just have to leave it.” It seems like he’s still pretty overwhelmed by his amazing discovery!

Preserving The Past For The Future

“It’s part of our history so it should be kept,” said Simon. He and his father are hoping that they will be able to preserve the shelter and keep it as it is for the future. It’s a pretty amazing thing to discover, and we understand their desire to keep it and show it off! There is so much history that still undiscovered, it’s important for future generations to see these pieces of history first hand.
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