CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Nora the explorer! Cat missing for nine days is found underground in air raid shelter

Transport Museum officials end pet's ordeal following tunnel rescue

25 February, 2021 — By Bronwen Weatherby and Tom Foot

Nora the cat got stuck in the shelter in Haverstock Hill

A CAT is back home safe and sound after nine days trapped 120ft below ground in an air raid shelter.

In a miraculous stroke of fortune, Nora, a Norwegian Forest cat, was discovered cowering in a network of tunnels below Belsize Park.

London Underground officials had been repairing the white shelter in Haverstock Hill, which was recently broken into.

Grateful owner Barbara Carmichael said she is now planning to fit Nora – the explorer – with a GPS device.

She said: “They were only there for one day, so if they hadn’t found her then she would have been entombed. Those guys are my heroes and while they wouldn’t take a reward they definitely deserve recognition for what they did for our family.”

Nora

Nora was found at the end of a 1,400ft-long tunnel. The one-and-a-half-year-old had lost a lot of weight during her ordeal, but she is recovering well and is happy to be back with her brother Knausgaard and Ms Carmichael’s 12-year-old son, Orson.

Ms Carmichael said: “Most of the time Knausgaard would prefer the sofa to himself, but when Nora came back he pushed her onto the floor and began washing her, which was really beautiful.”

The family had put up 45 posters and flyers around 350 homes as well as posting on social media.

Ms Carmichael added: “We got so many messages from complete strangers and the support from people on our street was amazing. “There was so much general goodwill. I’d like to thank everyone who joined in the search.”

There are eight deep shelters in London that were built after the Blitz and are each designed to hold 8,000 people.

Nora has been reunited with Orson

One in Clapham South is available for tours run by the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. Chris Nix from the museum said: “We were aware urban explorers had broken in several weeks ago and the site had to be re-secured.

“It was really fortunate we happened to be doing that inspection. What was more remarkable was that we found the cat right at the end of the tunnel.

“The clever girl had found the only water source and perhaps the best place to find a light snack.”

He added: “It did what every cat would do – it ran for it. It took a long time to track it down. But here’s the really spooky thing. When I went down I saw this little face looking back at me, I realised it was a Norwegian Forest Cat – a beautiful breed, with distinctive features – and quite dog-like.

“They are quite rare in this country, but I have four of them myself.  Don’t judge me. So I was chatting to her for a little bit and eventually she felt comfortable for me to carry her out. Because they are originally Norway farm cats, they roam a far bigger territory than a domestic cat.”

The shelter in Belsize Park

Mr Nix carried the cat up 179 steps of a spiral staircase to the surface before calling the number on the posters. During lockdown the museum is running virtual tours of tunnels and dark corners of the transport network in a series called “hidden hangouts” on its YouTube channel.

“Next week’s episode will certainly be about the discovery of Nora,” said Mr Nix.

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