Repurposing has become all-the-craze within today’s society. Popular TV shows like “Flea Market Flip” and “American Pickers” have become a vital part of our pop culture, where celebrity hosts along with ordinary people, salvage and recycle old and at times discarded items, transforming them into new, useful and unique objects.
One of those discarded items appeared in a real estate promotion catching the eye of a British woman named Elizabeth Strutton, who had always dreamed of owning a WWII bunker.
Strutton and her husband, Mike, saw an advertisement in a real estate office window for the barely visible heavily fortified bunker nestled on a parcel of farmland, in Cornwall, England and decided to purchase the bunker along with the property for $194,000 from the farmer, who had been using the bunker as storage-space for his crops.
The WWII bunker was built in 1942, guarding Britain’s iconic White Cliffs of Dover against a potential Nazi invasion. It was England’s first line of defense against the Germans, and also served as a secret radar and communications post, gathering top secret information, while also monitoring the skies overhead without ever being detected by the enemy pilots above. It operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and it was a vital part of the war effort against the Nazis.
In 1982, the British Ministry of Defense, finally decommissioned the bunker, turning it over to the farm, where it has sat for over 80 years.
When the couple took possession of the bunker it still had military equipment from the 1940’s, and concrete walls that measured 2 to 6 feet thick, so converting the space into something livable became a huge challenge.
The surrounding area of the bunker was also overgrown with weeds, and there was Ivy everywhere. The floors had to be raised, and the ceilings had to be lowered to accommodate insulation, plumbing, and electricity.
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All-in-all, it took over 5-years of back-breaking work and over $135,000 on renovations, to transform a WWII bunker into a beautiful 21st centaury home.
In a 2013 interview with Daily Mail, Strutton explained why she wanted to live in the bunker.
“It is a magical fortress. You are at the end of the world and living history. You don’t know what you’re letting yourself in for when you take this kind of thing on, but I know I live in the best place in the world now,” she said.
The repurposed bunker comes with 3-bedrooms, 2-bathrooms, and a sizable living area. Its underground location made it impossible to put windows, so they installed tubular skylights through the roof instead, allowing natural light to filter in.
“The building process was very difficult. It hasn’t been done before so the builders weren’t used to this kind of space. It took much longer and much more money than expected,” Strutton said.
Despite the major changes, the interior of the bunker/house looks remarkably the same as when it was first built. Of course, there’s no shortage of interest from scholars, veterans and WWII buffs, all wanting to take a peek inside.
“We have had a lot of interest,” Ms Strutton explained, “a man studying bunkers of that era came round and I learned a lot about my home that I never knew.”
Adding; “Amazingly, the family of a veteran came down the other week. They said their mum now has dementia but told them she worked here during the war.”
“Living in here you do really appreciate the way people fought – you feel a sort of connection with what they were doing. It is something I don’t want to take for granted and one of the best things about the place.”
However, as of this writing Ms. Strutton has apparently put her historical abode on the market for £275,000 with Miller&Son.