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The webmaster, Pat Cryer, as a young child

Makeshift spaces
for WW2 air raid shelters

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WW2 air raid shelter with blast wall, dug into a hillside

Air raid shelter dug into a hillside, Note the blast wall in front of the entrance with sandbags at the side. Photographed at Brooklands Museum.

There were of course purpose-built air raid shelters in World War Two. Best known examples are Anderson shelters, Morrison shelters and custom-built public shelters. Additionally, though, individuals and local authorities were quick to recognise existing spaces that would be safe from bombs during air-raids.

Such spaces very much depended on what was available in the locality. The platforms of stations on the London Underground are probably best known - see the London Underground shelters page - but I also know of caves that were formally kitted out as shelters, as were spaces hollowed out of hillsides.

Cellars as air raid shelters

Our first air raid shelters were the cellars at the local pub which were set up with beds and bunks for anyone's use. (This was The Cambridge, Edmonton.)

Frank Clarke

Under the stairs at home

Under the staircase was considered to be the strongest structure in a house, and I well remember the excitement of taking shelter there. I sat in this small space with mother, father and younger brother who was then only a baby. Of course I didn't realise the huge dangers at the time, and was almost disappointed when the all-clear sounded, allowing us all to return to bed. Later our Morrison shelter arrived.

Richard Ouston

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Castle battlements

The wall and battlements of Cardiff Castle, used as air-raid shelters in World War Two

The wall and battlements of Cardiff Castle, buttressed on the other side with steep earth. The corridors under the battlements were used as air-raid shelters in World War Two.

Cardiff Castle must be typical of castles where the corridors and rooms under the battlements were taken over as public air-raid shelters. Cardiff Castle is particularly impressive and some of the items from the time have been kept in place as showpieces of what air-raid shelters in Britain were like in World War Two.

The castle shelter must have given refuge to hundreds of people.

Click a thumbnail for a larger image.

World War Two public shelter under battlements of Cardiff Castle showing rows of bunk beds, small image

Corridor under the castle battlements showing rows of bunk beds.

Room off the corridor of the WW2 public shelters under the battlements of Cardiff Castle showing facilities for basic cooking and water heating, small image

Room off the corridor showing facilities for basic cooking and water heating.

Room off the corridor of the WW2 public shelters under the battlements of Cardiff Castle showing a service counter for selling food and drink,small image

Room off the corridor showing a service counter for selling food and drink.

Room off the corridor of the WW2 public shelters under the battlements of Cardiff Castle showing a service counter for washing up, small image

Room off the corridor showing facilities for washing up.

Room off the corridor of the WW2 public shelters under the battlements of Cardiff Castle showing candles, a radio and clothes, small image

Storage room showing candles, a radio and clothes.

Room off the corridor of the WW2 public shelters under the battlements of Cardiff Castle showing a bicycle and clothes, small image

Another view of the storage room showing a bicycle.

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This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in 20th century Britain from the early 1900s to about 1960, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times.