This web page offers advice to those thinking of repairing, refurbishing or rebuilding an Anderson Shelter.
The task is not particularly difficult if you have basic practical skills. Others have done it - see below - and lots of households built their own shelters during the war using material provided by the authorities. The instructions they followed are here. The main problem is finding the corrugated iron etc.. Advice on how to do this is further down this page.
Please do email Martin Stanley if you can add to or correct any of the advice or information on this page.
The Corrugated Iron
It is important to be aware that the corrugated iron that was used in the war, especially in Anderson Shelters, was significantly thicker (heavier gauge) than that which is manufactured today - around 2mm thick rather than the current 0.7mm.
If you want to buy or sell such corrugated iron then I recommend that you use eBay or Gumtree.
The metal is heavy,. Individual pieces can usually be carried by one person - but two is better. And I have transported it in a Citroen Berlingo car/van, so I imagine that it could be carried in a wide range of estate cars and vans. But please do check dimensions and weights before committing to a long journey.
Or you could use corrugated plastic ... see further below.
Or Tinman Steels will build a new shelter for you! - See the photo on the left of a shelter that was built for a school.
Galvanised steel is clever stuff and naturally resists rusting. Follow this link for further information. It does not therefore usually need to be painted.
If you do want to paint the steel then we have been recommended to use Hammerite Special Metals Primer, followed by Hammerite Metal Paint. The steel around the doorway to our shelter has, for instance, been painted 'smooth white'.
Important note:- Although the Hammerite paint is said to be direct to rust, this doesn't apply to galvanised surfaces which need to be primed first.
The shelters were not fitted with doors as they would then have been very claustrophobic. But some householders fitted wooden surrounds (of their own simple design) to the otherwise sharp edges of the entrance panels.
The official wartime Directions for the Erection and Sinking of the Galvanised Corrugated Steel Shelter are here. They are quite comprehensive and - I understand - quite easy to follow if you have a practical nature (which I do not!). Please do not ask me for further advice as everything I have learned is already on this page. But do please let me have additional useful advice which can be passed on to others.
1. Please follow this link to read in some detail about the rebuilding of a shelter in Biggin Hill.
2. Joe McGuigan has kindly shared this experience of rebuilding an Edinburgh shelter which was originally redeployed as a garden shed or coal bunkers next to a post-war 'prefab'. Click here for more information.
My father and I got it dismantled (eventually). The bolts were incredibly stiff so it took several hours to get them all undone! I have managed to save all of the washers. And all of the nuts and bolts except two - which were too badly corroded and had to be sawn off unfortunately. I am now in the process of cleaning them up.
The panels of the shelter vary in conditions. Some of them are not too bad, where others are heavily rusted and in some parts are rusted away at the bottom.
I have currently started grinding away the rust - I will then apply a rust inhibitor and then the undercoat and paint. With the holes, I was thinking the best way would be to fill them with a kind of car filler/cold weld putty supported by a fine mesh.
I am also planning on joining the corroded away bottom sections to new sections with a weld putty - whether this will hold or not I am unsure.
Here are some photos taken when Joe was dismantling the old shelter:
3. Spirit of the Homefront
This enterprising group of enthusiasts acquired eight sections of corrugated iron from Sussex (180 miles away) and six sections from the West Midlands (5 miles away). They then:
- made straight sections out of two curved sections cut ,bolted and welded together
- used hooks and eyes to attach front and back sections
- put wooden planks on the floor
- attached a shelf to escape panel handles
- hinged the front lower section for access
- painted it all oxide battleship grey
- and covered it over with astro turf.
They made it so it can be taken down and transported, and are now showing it at schools and 1940s events. Their website and contact details are here and some photos are below.
4. Adam Hitchin built this replica shelter out of corrugated plastic for the lucky pupils of Takeley Primary School in Essex.
( Click on the photo to see an enlarged image.)