Wednesday, 4 July 2018

At the bottom of almost every garden ...... a shelter from Mr Hitler’s bombs ..... in Lambton Road in Chorlton

Now I bet Mrs Elsie Waterworth of Lambton Road would have been pretty surprised that her Anderson air raid shelter would still be standing at the bottom of her garden, 79 years after the workmen delivered it.

Mrs Waterworth's Anderson haven, 2018
Of course I can’t be exactly sure that it was one of the one and half million which were delivered to homes across the country between February and September 1939.

She might instead have been one of the two and half million other householders who received theirs during the war.

Nor do I know if she got hers for free or had to pay the charge of £7 to get the peace of mind that Mr Anderson’s shelters offered.

Those earning less than £5 a week were exempt from paying, but she worked as a telephone operator and shared the house with two other women who I guess made a contribution to the income of the household.  All of which suggests hers was not free.*

The design of the Anderson, was very simple and consisted of six curved panels of galvanised and corrugated steel sheets, bolted together, with a front and a back made of the same material.

The Bedford Anderson, 2007
The shelters could sleep six and were six feet high, 4.5 feet wide and 6.5 feet long.

They could be buried in the ground with more soil added on top which was sometimes turned into a vegetable garden, and given that they were often underground a pump was incorporated into the floor.

The internal fitting out of the shelter was left to the owner and so there were wide variations in comfort.**

Not that sitting in one with the ever present threat of German bombs could ever be described as comfortable, and I doubt Mrs Waterworth, or her two companions were overjoyed at a night in the garden.

One day I might go looking for her fellow shelter sufferers who were the 67 years old Lily McNolorey who was blind and Alice Leeboth who was three years younger.

The Bournemouth shelter 1941
Despite the shelters being cold and damp, they offered better protection from blast and ground shock than the brick and concrete ones.

In the case of ours, we will never know how many times it was used, and in particular if the three sheltered there during the Christmas Blitz of December 1940.

I suspect as the war progressed and moved closer to its end their stay out in the garden became less, and as often happens the shelter became a place to deposit “stuff”.

And that became the fate of many of these shelters, for while it was expected that they would be returned so the metal could be salvaged, many paid to keep them.

In the case of ours someone decided to make it more permanent by adding a brick wall at one.

And that is all I have to say.

Location; Chorlton

Picture; Mrs Waterworth’s Anderson Shelter, 2018, from the collection of Peter Topping, and an “old and badly rusted Anderson shelter, that has in it's time been converted for use as a garden shed, on display in the courtyard of Bedford Museum, Bedford, Bedfordshire, England”, 2007, Simon Speed, and, Anderson shelter in Bournemouth in 1941,The Brit,licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

*1939 Register

*Anderson Shelters, Wikipedia,

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