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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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War checklist hidden under Carlisle care home's wallpaper

A piece of Carlisle’s wartime history has been unearthed during the refurbishment of a residential care home.

Care home war list photo
Pat Briggs reads an uncovered blackboard

The Laurels’ premises in Norfolk Road were used by the Royal Observer Corps during World War Two to monitor movements of allied and enemy aircraft.

When wallpaper in the lounge was removed during renovations, it revealed an inscription above the fireplace exhorting to staff to be vigilant. There is also a chart on the wall to log the number of aircraft flying from aerodromes at Annan, Longtown, Orton, Silloth, Crosby-on-Eden, Silloth, Kirkbride, Dumfries and Kingstown.

There is a section to record planes shot down or “lost at sea”. Pat Briggs, who opened The Laurels in 1976, said: “We were planning to plaster it over but some of our residents said ‘no, you mustn’t do that, it’s part of our history’.

“So we’re going to put a frame around the inscription and make a feature of it.

“We knew that the Royal Observer Corps used the building during the war. They bought the house from the Maxwell family, who had it built for £600.

“There is still an observation platform on the roof although it’s not safe to go up there.”

The inscription reads: “May we serve King and Empire. Keep watch efficiently. By our vigilance we assist in destroying the enemy and saving the lives of our airmen.”

The Laurels’ 26 residents include 90-year-old Douglas Gregson who served as an engineer in the RAF in north Africa and Italy during World War II.

He believes it is right that the find should be preserved.

Mr Gregson said: “It’s very important to remind people. These things soon get lost and it’s easy to forget them.”

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