Monday, February 21, 2022

Shed history: The first Anderson shelter is erected on this day 1939

Plans for civilian protection from air raids in the UK had been underway well before the beginning of the Second World War in 1939. One of the earliest provisions was the Anderson shelter (pictured above is part of the official installation instructions), designed in 1938 by Dr David Anderson, William Paterson and Oscar Carl Kerrison and first built in Islington, London, on 25 February 1939. A shed-like galvanized corrugated steel structure of 2 x 1.4m, the shelter was erected in domestic back gardens sunk 1.2m into the ground and then covered with earth. Able to accommodate up to six people, they were provided to more than three million people living in the most exposed locations and were free to those earning under £5 a week (£7 to everyone else).

Although they undoubtedly saved lives, they were of no use to those without gardens and were uncomfortable and prone to damp. They gradually fell out of use, to be replaced by the cage-like indoor Morrison shelters. After the war, many Anderson shelters continued life as chicken coops or tool sheds.


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