Air Raid Shelters
- Created: 27 October 2013
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Air Raid Shelters
Air Raid Shelters were built during the War to protect people from Bombs dropped from Aeroplanes during what became known as the Blitz. When an air raid siren sounded people would make there way quietly towards the Shelter, this could have happened at any time of the day even if you were at school and most Schools had some type of Air Raid Shelter for Children to go into. Once in the Shelter you be in there for many hours until the All Clear Siren sounded and you would be able then to come outside.
Going into a Shelter did not mean you were safe and many Shelters took a direct hit from a bomb and were destroyed and many people died inside them. Some people refused to go inside them deciding instead to take their chances in the cupboard under the stairs, which often proved to be fatal if the house took a direct hit.
There were many different types of Shelter from Garden Shelters to large Public Shelters to Railway Platforms underground.
Anderson Shelters were small iron clad underground family shelters that were dug into the ground and the earth dug out used to cover the top. These shelters were cold and damp in the Winter but surprisingly stood up to a lot of damage.
Kits designed for up to six people could be bought, but later they were given away free by the Government to poorer families with enough garden space to accommodate them. I suspect that digging out enough soil for the shelter was hard work and usually the whole family helped.
Morrison shelters were for indoors. They took up a lot of space in a room and made the room look untidy, even though they could double as a table in daytime. So people with large families tended to choose an outside Anderson shelter for air raid protection in the Second World War, rather than having to have more than one Morrison shelter indoors. Morrison shelters were relatively quick to get to when there was an air raid, and they were also warmer than Anderson shelters because they were indoors.
Many thousands of public air-raid shelters were built for use on a communal basis. They were sited on waste land, in parks and in the middle of wide public roads. They were not bomb-proof and many people were killed in direct hits. However they did offer protection from bomb blast - and more people died from bomb blast than direct hits. Public shelters were all marked with a large black sign some 4 feet by 2 feet painted matt black with a large white S so that they could show up in the blackout
This picture shows a Public Shelter in Albion Street in Hull, the main Library can be seen on the right with the Tower. You can also see the sign on the Shelter with a big "S" signifying that this building is a shelter.
Types of public air raid shelter
One type of shelter was the above ground type built of ordinary house bricks. These were long rectangular structures with a concrete roof, and inside were rows of wooden bunk beds, some four beds in height. All had flat metal strips that acted as springs.
The second type of shelter were very large concrete tubes that had been placed in vast trenches cut into the ground and then covered over, leaving just a slight bump in on the surface. You entered by going down some steps and through a thick metal door. There were bunk beds and ventilation was by tubes like periscopes sticking above the surface.
Many other structures were used during wartime to protect the public from Air Raids and these took the form of Cellars, Basement, Railway Arches and in London the Underground Railway Stations of the Tube were used.
Family's working together to build Shelters in the Garden
Family's receiving the Anderson Shelters
This family is just about to enter their Air Raid Shelter, you can see that each person is holding a small box with string, this was their personal Gas Mask and it had to be carried at all times.