CONTRACTORS at a North Yorkshire primary school have uncovered a Second World War air raid shelter.

They discovered the U-shaped bunker at Hensall Community Primary School, near Selby, as they were clearing the site to make room for an extra classroom.

The shelter consists of three long tunnels with toilets at each end and still contains some of its original furniture.

It is thought to have been built in order to protect Hensall’s schoolchildren. The village was near a wartime airfield and was in the flight path of German bombers.

The bunker entrance was concealed under an overgrown garden at the back of the old school master’s house.

Although there was some local knowledge of a former school air raid shelter, its existence had been largely overlooked and it did not show up on any local or heritage searches.

Hensall’s School Master’s House and Old School was built in 1854 and is a Grade II listed building. The main school was added later.

If the bunker is deemed to be a listed building along with the school, the county council will have to seek listed building consent for any alterations resulting from the new teaching area.

Coun Arthur Barker, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for schools, said: “While the bunker is an exciting find and is of obvious historic interest, it leaves the county council with a tricky problem to solve.

“The delays we have already experienced because of issues associated with a listed building and mining subsidence have now been compounded by the bunker’s discovery and it is not at all clear how we can move forward.”