War gamers may be forced out of tunnels in Epsom
War gamers will have to vacate a huge World War II tunnel complex if plans to convert it into a maximum security bank vault for precious metals go ahead.
From outside the fenced site, 15 minutes walk from the centre of Epsom, there is nothing to show that the trees mask the entrance to a huge bomb shelter.
John, who runs Elite Action Games which uses the tunnels for airsoft war games agreed to show us round, provided we did not reveal the exact location.
He led us through two gates down a tree-lined slope to the metal entrance.
Pulling open the thick door, John said: "It looks like something out of a horror movie."
We went through the high brick entrance tunnel into the complex, walking passed fake danger signs for the war games which take place on Wednesday nights and Saturdays.
Up to 30 people take part, paying £25 on Saturdays to try their hand as a Tunnel Rat - acting out the ferocious fighting that took place in tunnels during the Vietnam War.
Passing a room that was used as a warden’s office during the war we stopped underneath a hole in the ceiling and John told us to look up.
A model skeleton dropped down from the darkness.
He said: "You’ve got to have a sense of humour in these places."
Our torches lighted the way through the men’s toilets and then through the former medical point.
In another corridor pick marks could be seen on the chalk walls and John said there would have been benches there during the war.
He said: "They would have sat here singing, having a cup of tea and trying to get some shuteye."
Airsoft plastic pellets, some of which glowed in the dark, were scattered on the muddy ground.
At one point we had to walk through shallow flood water and John said the ventilation shafts had been blocked in because kids used to climb down.
He said: "It’s lost, this stuff. That’s why we love it down here you see. Nobody knows about it."
He said rumours that there were plans for the Royal Family to stay there or claims it was haunted were merely ‘hogwash’.
At the end we went to the action games ‘safe zone’ where we put on damp masks and fired plastic pellets that pinged down the room.
Suddenly the lights began to flicker signalling that we had about a minute to leave the tunnels before the generator ran out of fuel.
Back in the sunlight, John pointed out marks on the doors where people had tried to break in with an angle grinder.