Non-Standard Bomb Shelters

A wide range and large number of shelters were built before and during the Second World War to protect those living and working in an equally wide range of buildings.  This webpage contains some information about shelters that have been brought to my attention other than standard Anderson, Morrison or deep shelters.    But there is lots more information on the web.

Stanton Shelters

Some of the following examples may be Stanton Air-Raid Shelters.  These were manufactured by the Stanton Ironworks Co Ltd near Nottingham (the iron connection is in the mould pattern). They could be built in any length but usually consisted of 18 precast concrete arched-shaped units (each one in two parts), bolted together to form a standard (after 1941) Air Ministry shelter for 50 men. The entrance was often brick-lined with concrete steps (where required) and the rear unit had an emergency escape hatch. They are often above ground or semi-sunk but for concealment purposes there were covered by a layer of earth and turf.

Here is what is presumably a Stanton shelter in Shoeburyness, built to shelter the officers and men in the nearby Artillery barracks.  Click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Shelter Heaters

The item in the photo above was described as 'a 12 inch Anderson Shelter Stove'.   However, as Anderson shelters did not have chimneys, but some larger shelters did (see Wakefield, below, for instance), I suspect that such stoves/heaters were not in fact intended for Anderson shelters.

Liverpool,  Plymouth & Woodford Green, Essex

Here, first of all, are three Anderson-shaped shelters that were made out of concrete, not corrugated iron.

The first two photos are of a shelter in Liverpool.  Below them, the photo on the left is of a shelter in Stoke, Plymouth.

The enterprising owners of the shelter in Woodford Green - below on the right - have cleverly turned it into a home for frogs and newts. They discovered it - after they had bought the house - covered in ivy and half buried in soil.   You can click on this image to see a larger version of the photo.

 

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Now, in alphabetical order ...

Biddenham, near Bedford

This substantial concrete shelter is currently being excavated.  The nearby house was built in 1939 so the owners probably paid the builders to carry out some extra construction work.

      

Cardiff

Here is an impressive corrugated iron Anderson shelter, built entirely underground and since lovingly restored by its owner, who has fitted a new ladder and hatch. Larger versions of the photos may be seen if you click on the following images.

Croxley Green

Follow this link to read the fascinating story of the excavation of a concrete shelter in Barton Way.  It is believed that every block of terraced houses along that road had one of these but this may be the only one that hadn’t been filled in over the years.

Ealing

This one is a real puzzle - a normal Anderson shelter (without its two ends) built in the cellar of a house. 

Maybe the owners of the house during the war decided that they would be safer in their basement than in a shelter in their garden, so they used their council-provided corrugated iron to build their shelter in their basement instead of in the garden?  Alternatively, they bought the structure after the war and erected it in their basement, but I can't think of any good reason why they would want to do so.

The steel features very clear Merino manufacturers' marks.

 

Finchley

Its owner reports that there were once several of these brick built shelters in the Finchley area of North London, and a couple still remain:

Halstead

I have created a separate web page with information about a group of fifteen underground shelters built by Courtaulds in 1939 to protect their workforce from the Luftwaffe.

Hornchurch

Follow this link to read about three unusual and fascinating structures near (what was once) RAF Hornchurch.

Ivybridge, Devon

This is now a pretty shelter, mainly built with concrete and stone. but with a corrugated iron roof.

 

Langley, Buckinghamshire

Here are two photos of a rectangular concrete shelter.

Loudwater, Hertfordshire

Here is another interesting one. The nearby house was built in the 1930s and an Anderson shelter appears to have been specially built within a thick concrete shell. It was subsequently used as a wine cellar - hence the thermometer.

  

Nottingham

This is a very characterful shelter, used as a composter and built into a hillside in Sherwood, near Nottingham, which is no doubt how it has survived to this day.

Here are external and internal photos before it was cleared.

 

And here is a photo taken after the area around the shelter had been cleared, plus close-ups of external features including a bolt and a hinge.

 

 

Plymouth

Steve Hamm of TM Builders kindly drew my attention to this interesting structure in the basement of a late-1800s house that they were renovating

Steve thought that the building was originally built to house one family, with probably a housekeeper. The basement looked like it contained a kitchen, and what he could only assume were laundry facilities, due to the drains in the floor. The ‘shelter’ room, has a coal hole, accessed at street level, and had the remains of a hearth for a water heater.  The coal hole would provide a means of escape if the main stairs were blocked.

The corrugated iron sheets were double-skinned and were all Home Office approved - hence the Merino makers marks.  They were held up by five RSJ’s,  which were sunk two feet into the wall at the ends. These RSJ’s were in turn, supported by cast iron posts.  It was certain that the shelter was built with a lot of care as the garden would have been too small for an Anderson shelter, as it is just a small back yard.

  

Southampton

Graham and Lizzie Hendra found this shelter in 2016 after they had brought in a gardener to remove a mound of earth at the end of their garden in Bitterne. Their house in Glenfield Avenue was built in 1922 and they had lived there for six years before discovering the shelter. It looks to have been very well built. The concrete cap may have been added by a builder who wanted to ensure the safety of his family during the war. Their cat certainly appreciated having a new space to explore.

Sadly, this shelter has since been removed from this garden.

 

South Croydon

This is a very impressive shelter refurbishment. The shelter is not set in a trench in the garden. Instead, as the garden slopes uphill, the shelter is partly set into the hill with decking above it. The shelter has been supplemented (in more recent times) with a brick archway and some retaining walls at its entrance. The escape hatch at the back of the shelter is especially clear.

Wakefield

Last, but far from least, here are two shelters buried in very beautiful gardens.

The first is a large custom built shelter in Wakefield.  It had a heater at one end with its own chimney.  It was used very a lot during the war as there were frequent bombing raids on the munitions factories in nearby Leeds.  After the war, the soil that had been heaped on top of the shelter was used to form the base of a rockery. 

Someone who grew up in the house, and whose father built the shelter, remembers that "We used to dare kids to go down into it, and we would then howl down the chimney.  They came out faster than they went in."

You can click on these images to enlarge them.

Wolverhampton

This shelter can be visited, as it is in a garden featured by the National Garden Scheme.  (The garden was the 2015 National Garden Competition winner.)

The house was built in 1939, at the beginning of the war, so it made sense for the owners to have a strong concrete shelter built in their garden, some distance from the house.  Here is what it looked like before the current owners partially covered it with a rockery.

The shelter now has a new entrance which leads to a room about 2 metres square, strikingly decorated with a great variety of seashells. 

Wolverhampton Schools

Follow this link to read an interesting and detailed report about shelters at St Luke’s and Warstones schools.

 

Martin Stanley