There was almost a full, warm, Memorial Hall of HIARA members on a cold, gloomy Friday.  Ian Robinson welcomed everyone and explained that our Chairperson, Liz Jeffery, was unable to attend  today.  After one or two announcements, Ian introduced our speaker who was the ex-Headmistress of Maidstone Girls’ Grammar School.  Margaret explained that she was curious about a flight of steps in the school playing field and after having cleared bricks and stones blocking the steps it was discovered that they lead to assorted tunnels which were surprisingly clean, although damp. Following her enquiries, they were discovered to be the air-raid shelters for the students during World War Two.  Apparently, the subject “WWII” is part of the current curriculum in Kent Primary Schools and the tunnels are now visited by local schools for them to see where , in the many air-raids, the students had their lessons.  There was no heating in the tunnels and lighting was by hanging lanterns.

In recent times, there has been another flight of steps discovered in a different part of the playing field and there are, apparently, more tunnels in that area, not yet safe to enter as the steps are unsafe.

Margaret had brought with her copies of a book she had written, with many illustrations, showing how school life was lead at that time.  Many members purchased the book, profits from which will help with expenses for the school visits to the site.

Following this very interesting story, members were able to read a list of suggested day trips and one or two overnight trips suggested by the Events Committee for 2020 and ticked those they were interested in.  In due course the most popular outings will be available for booking.

Josephine Smith

HIARA