Many people built Anderson shelters in their gardens so that they had protection if they were unable to get to the public shelter in time. Anderson shelters were generally made out of corrugated iron and were very strong, although it depended on just how close a bomb or incendiary device fell. A hole was dug in the garden as deep as possible, the shelter was then placed in the hole and it was covered with earth that had previously been excavated. When the air raid siren sounded, families would either make their way to the nearest public shelter (maybe the tube network in inner London) or to the family Anderson Shelter. People would take a variety of things into their Anderson shelter during an Air raid; a few examples are: Warm clothes, a hurricane lamp and tins of non-perishable foods, Airplane spotter playing cards, essential pots, personal documents and a new newspaper about the battle of Britain.
Experience what life was like in the shelters with our Air Raid Shelter Pack. This pack includes a variety of items that a typical family may have kept in their shelter, including:
a hurricane lamp
tins of non perishable food (powdered egg and milk)
aeroplane spotter playing cards
In November 1938, Chamberlain placed Sir John Anderson in charge of Air Raid Precautions (ARP). He immediately commissioned the engineer, William Patterson, to design a small and cheap shelter that could be erected in people's gardens. Within a few months nearly one and a half million of what became known as Anderson shelters were distributed to people living in areas expected to be bombed by the Luftwaffe.
Made from six curved sheets bolted together at the top, with steel plates at either end, and measuring 6ft 6in by 4ft 6in (1.95m by 1.35m) the shelter could accommodate six people. These shelters were half buried in the ground with earth heaped on top. The entrance was protected by a steel shield and an earthen blast wall.
Anderson shelters were given free to poor people. Men who earned more than £5 a week could buy one for £7. Soon after the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939, over 2 million families had shelters in their garden. By the time of the Blitz this had risen to two and a quarter million.
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