Hare Hill House in Littleborough has an unexpected and extremely rare piece of World War Two history in its cellars. It also has a few other WW2 bits and pieces and nice stories to tell. And we were lucky enough to learn all about it on a recent Heritage Open Day.
The main house dates back to Edwardian times and stands in Hare Hill Park - a great park full of things for the kids. In 1901 it came under council use until being vacated in 2008. Now the Moorend Trust are trying to stabilise the building and find funding for its future use. They gave us a guided tour of the house and this is what we found:
The cellar was used in the Second World War as an air raid shelter for the councillors and workers at the house and as an ARP post. The house is home to a WW2 air filtration unit of which there is only one other known in existence. The only other is in the Imperial War Museum in London. It was installed in case of gas attacks. They even have the unused filters (which IWM do not have).
When going through the Council Chamber furniture they found a letter about the "Salute the Soldier Week". And outside is a public air raid shelter! More information on each of these and photos below:
Above: The cellar and the air filltration system.
Left: Operating Instructions.
Right: The makers' stamp.
Below Right: The unused filters
The Littleborough Council letter from an unknown Council official transcribed:
“Salute the soldier week. £35,000. Roughly to date. This Mr Chairman is not very good for Littleborough & I would [urge] everyone to do their best – to help us to reach the target of £80,000. We did not fail Tanks Week, Warships week, or Wings for Victory week.
We know we cannot do the impossible but we certainly can raise the money if everyone will pull their weight.
The soldier is the man who will finally have to win this war & will soon be in the front line on the second front. We depend on him for final occupation of Berlin & our aim was to send a division from here to Berlin.
We must not fail in our final effort [to rid] completely this earth of a Dictator who knows no laws but his own & a people who follow his dictates like sheep.
We must see that occupation of Berlin is a reality so that war cannot raise its ugly head again in Europe.
I appeal to all citizens of Littleborough to please lend all you can to achieve this end.”
Left: the old Council Chamber.
Below Right: The letter found in part of the furniture about Salute The Soldier week. CLICK on a photo to see the full letter
Left: One of the volunteers from the trust dressed as a ARP warden for the Heritage Day kindly poses for a photo.
Right: An old air raid siren
Below: Outside Hare Hill House and the library is an old Air Raid Shelter - partially buried for protection.
On one of the photos you can clearly see an escape hatch that has been concreted over.