Elvis Presleys false tooth and the WW2 Bunker

WW2 Paddock bunker in Neasden North London
WW2 Paddock bunker in Neasden North London

I have mentioned the Ian Visits website before on this blog, well today we attended two events we we spotted there. Both events are a bit unusual and completely different. First we visited a rarely open WW2 bunker, then we went to a dentist surgery to have a look at Elvis Presley’s false tooth. The day started with a bit of a panic, when I realised that although we had got up at 07:00 to get to Neasden in good time I thought we had to be there at 09:30 but when I checked the ticket it said 09:00. Any how we left the house at 07:45 and the Sat Nav was suggesting that we would be there by 08:55 plenty of time we thought!

RAF museum at Hendon

The Sat Nav it turns out take account of traffic it knows about but that is not all traffic so after following it to detour the traffic it did know we ended up in queues that it had not anticipated. At 08:55 we called Katy the organiser to let them know we were running a few minutes late. We finally go there at 09:20 and they kindly allowed us to tag along with the school kids on the 09:30 tour. The tour started by obviously going down some steps quite a few in fact, the tour guide was very good and explained how far down we were and the little amount history of the place. The Bunker was only ever used twice during the war then was locked up to hardly ever be opened again so no one really was aware of it presence and those that were had signed the official secrets act and could not divulge anything. For example they had contact with a person that whose duty it was check the phones worked every week but she could not tell them much about the place as she was only permitted to descend the steps walk along the corridor check the phones then exit they way she had come,  blissfully unaware of the size of the complex.

Elvis and his false tooth

The tour took about an hour and was very interesting, the place was very damp (because when they built some houses on top they breached the water proofing) dirty mouldy and there were stalactites on the ceiling. The Paddocks as the bunker is know is made available to be viewed by the public twice a year by the housing association that built the house on the research site which was above the bunker. This was a stipulation of the planning consent and although the stipulation as run out they sill keep the pumps going to get the water out and pay for the lighting.

Once the tour was finished I suggested we went to the RAF museum at Hendon for a cup of coffee at the cafe there. It turned out to be a popular idea and a cheap one at that the parking cost £3 but the entrance to the museum was free so we had a bit of a look around while we were there. I took the opportunity to take a few panorama sets of photos before we left for the highlight of the day Elvis Presley’s false tooth.

Again Ian Visits tipped me off that there was a once in a life time opportunity to see Elvis Presley’s false tooth (or crown as they say in dental clinics). I set the sat nav and after 30 minutes in London traffic we pulled up outside a house in an Victorian housing estate in Bounds Green which had been pebble dashed and converted into a dentist practice. There appeared to be nothing happening but on the door was a poster suggesting an Elvis tribute would be there between 1200 and 1400. On entering we entered into a strange situation, there was an Elvis impersonator singing songs whilst the practice staff milled about with fancy dress on. On the reception counter was a clear perspex box containing a tooth moulding and a bright white crown, the object of our mission.

Elvis and his false tooth

There were a couple of press photographers taking photo’s, some Cancer Awareness representatives and Virgin Active sales people apart from that we seemed to be the only people there at that moment. A woman approached us and asked if we wanted a free mouth cancer check we said yes and filled out the forms. As we waited we made sure we got selfies with the tooth and were interviewed by the Mouth Cancer awareness people. We both declared clear so we left with our sugar coated cup cake!

We headed back via the super market and endured a very violent hail storm on the A41 and were back home to good time, after a bizarrely interesting day.

Chocks away

Some of RAF Uxbridge Battle of Britain bunker 76 stairs

Following a recommendation from the Ian Visits website we were going to visit the Battle of Britain Bunker at RAF Uxbridge, but before that I needed a haircut. Have been letting it grow for a change, but have got to the point where I either need to buy a comb or get it cut. The barber’s is in Wendover and if you get there just a few moments before 08:30 you can usually be the first in the queue. Today was no exception  by 09:00 I was back home and shorn.

Satnav was on but when we got to the edge of the very large site we had a challenge because some entries were blocked and the road was up at others, but eventually we parked up at the bunker. The place is run by enthusiastic volunteers. From the entrance there are 76 steps down which I reckon is about 5 floors worth. At the bottom we were ushered into a film that had just started, where we were told all about the Dowding method for tracking planes during the war. The video was a bit amateur but informative and well presented.

Following the film there were about 8 rooms to look around with lots of RAF memorabilia to look at some of more interest to RAF people but much of it the sort of thing you wish museums showed more of. Lots of pictures of young airman, details of their planes, and where appropriate, where the brave men lost their lives. Part way through the viewing route was the main room where they used to push blocks representing aircraft across a map and allowed decisions about who and how many aircraft to send to deal with. There was lots of WAAF memorabilia including an example of the fetching regulation purple bloomers. One of the guides was particularly informative and wished that they could get hold of some more mannequins for the map room, in order to represent how busy and full these rooms were during peak times.  One for M&S public relations I think! Some really interesting exhibits and well worth a visit. The steps were more difficult leaving than arriving unusual for a museum!

RAF Uxbridge Battle of Britain bunker, map room

Helen was all RAF’d up and decided a trip to the RAF memorial at Runnymede was necessary, so I cancelled the satnav destination and put in the new one. Before leaving Uxbridge we stopped off at an Asian supermarket for some cheap garlic, ginger, and falafel mix. We had been to Runnymede once before but it was only when we got within mile that I recognised the area.

We parked up and walked the few hundred metres to the memorial. You enter via some wooden gates, to a tarmac drive, that leads to what looks like a low building, with a central section slightly taller. When you get to the building you realise that the building is actually a sheltered stone wall surrounding a central grassy area with a cenotaph in the centre.  It is a very peaceful and atmospheric place, with great views towards the West. The roar of aircraft taking off from Heathrow echoes overhead as you run your eyes down the plaques of the 20,000 airmen remembered there who lost their lives and have no known grave. Watching the cloud bank covering the sky it was easy to imagine Lancasters breaking through the cloud as they flew on in some endless journey.

Runnymede RAF Memorial

Helen went off to find out which list of names an acquaintance of a relative was on by referring to the registers. I tried my hand at a couple of hand held panorama shots, one outside and one inside. I also went up the stairs where from the top you could get great views over Windsor.  As we left two buzzards were sweeping across the sky above the memorial in the Spring sunshine.

It was getting a bit late to get home for lunch, but I had the idea that we should stop at The Crown in Little Missenden, a real gem of a pub. Helen had chosen the blue route back which meant passing down Slough High street, where Helen felt the need to break out into the On The Buses theme tune!

I created two panoramas at the Runnymede memorial one outside and one inside.
Outside panorama – http://neilbaldwin.netpanorama/local/runnymede-raf-memorial/
Inside panorama – http://neilbaldwin.netpanorama/local/runnymede-raf-memorial-inside/