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Liverpool Blitz: Anderson and other shelters

Anderson shelters were small (1.95m x 1.35m), cheap air raid shelters, distributed to 2.25 million homes in vulnerable areas like Merseyside. They were made from six sheets of steel, bolted into a curved shape and half buried in the ground. The earth that had been removed could be piled on top to provide extra protection, and even used for growing vegetables.

Surface shelters
Surface shelters were common in Liverpool. This row is on Stevenson Street, Wavertree. 17 September 1940
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They were designed to hold six people but not in very much comfort. They were cold and draughty and stuffy when sealed. In low-lying areas they were easily flooded. The government hoped that people would spend the night in them, but the lack of space, warmth and soundproofing meant that most people only went in once the air raid siren was sounded.

Not everyone used personal shelters. Some people didn't have a garden so used public shelters in large basements. Others didn't like or trust shelters so took their chances under the stairs at home. Some people didn't bother getting out of bed at all when the siren was sounded.

There were other types of shelter. Surface shelters were made of brick and concrete, but a national shortage of concrete meant they were not very stable or safe.

A destroyed surface shelter
A destroyed surface shelter on Louisa Street (now demolished). You can see the owners took chairs in to make it more comfortable. 16 October 1940
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Other people had Morrison shelters in their houses. These were made of thick steel and wire, and provided sleeping space for up to three people. They also doubled as a kitchen/dining table. They cost £7 each or were free to people with a household income of less than £350/year.

Activity

Download this document from the Learning Curve website. It features original instructions on how to construct Morrison and Anderson shelters, actual war cabinet minutes about shelters and other info.

 

Audio

audio

Marion Browne talks about staying in bed during and air raid and seeing a doodlebug.
(windows media | mp3 | read transcript)

Eileen Marks talks about the things people took into shelters.
(windows media | mp3 | read transcript)

Marie Hain talks about her mother dragging her to their shelter.
(windows media | mp3 | read transcript)

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