Reproduction Anderson shelter photographed in the Lincolnsfields
Childrens Centre, Bushey. Note the essential
chamber pot just peeping out.
What an Anderson shelter was
An Anderson shelter was essentially a part dug-out for back gardens. The
roof and sides were a sheet of corrugated iron bent into an inverted U, with
the soil from the dug-out on top. The door and end wall were also corrugated
How Anderson shelters were made
Our Anderson shelter was installed in the back garden, beyond the garden shed, about three feet of its
height being underground and the top half above ground level, covered by the spoil of the excavation. It was made of 'Dolphin Brand' corrugated iron (showing many blue stippled trade marks of dolphins) and with the joints sealed with black bitumen.
The floor was of concrete with a sump to collect leakage and condensation (not that there was much). Along one side were two bunk beds and along the other was a single bunk with storage underneath. My father had run an electricity supply from the shed and we had a flat electric fire which would also boil a kettle, a mains driven night light for night-time use and a bright bulb for daytime. There was a sealed biscuit tin of emergency supplies (which fortunately were never needed) and some earthenware bottles of water. The shelter entrance was via a pair of two inch thick wooden doors and a set of wooden steps down. The doors had ventilation holes in them.
Kits designed for up to six people could be bought, but - as I was told 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, requiring
either a young and fit man, or a family effort.
Inside an Anderson shelter
Inside our Anderson shelter, we had four bunk beds, a bucket with a seat
as a chamber pot and another bucket for drinking water.
Problems with locations of Anderson shelters
My grandfather in his family's Anderson shelter in World
As Anderson shelters were installed
in back gardens, there was not always enough time for everyone to get to get
to one before an air raid began. My understanding of this is etched deeply in my
mind because it was what happened to my grandparents and their grown-up family.
It was early evening; they were preparing for supper, so had not yet settled
into the shelter
for the night.
Then the warnng
sounded. The result was that my grandmother was killed instantly and several
of my aunts and uncles were hospitalised. The house was a write-off.
The story of that Edmonton bombing was told
to me in graphic detail over and over again as I grew up. The linked page
describes it in my mother's words.
This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in early to mid 20th century Britain, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.