To the average passer-by, St Leonard's Court in East Sheen is a non-descript apartment block with nothing particularly remarkable about it. However, look a little closer and you will notice a small plaque near the entrance-way on Palmers Road which shows that the block has a little piece of history hidden within it that is anything but unremarkable.
Beneath the well kept mound of grass is a huge World War II air raid shelter that was built around 80 years ago and has been Grade II listed by English Heritage. The only part that's visible above ground is a red-brick conical turret to the rear of the lawn, which is the shelter's entrance.
The rest is beneath ground, consisting of two sleeping areas: one for males and one for females, and two day rooms - the four compartments are either side of a main central corridor. The air raid shelter was built to hold about 48 people - approximately half the number of flats in St Leonard's Court.
The layout of the shelter
Over the past year or so a number of organisations in the Richmond borough - including The Mortlake and East Sheen society - have been working to restore the shelter to make it safe for visitors. It has been suggested that the first opening of the shelter will be in September during London's Open House weekend.
What an exciting thing to be able to take a look around, and so much better than the original plan of tearing it out and building more flats. Palmers Road is off St Leonard's Road in East Sheen, moments away from Mortlake train station.