is this an air raid shelter?

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by Lucusmclucus, Sep 12, 2020.

  1. Lucusmclucus

    Lucusmclucus Member

    Hi could anyone confirm if this is an air raid shelter or just an outhouse/coal shed of some kind. Its two bricks thick (herringbone brick), semi detached! If uncertain how can I tell?

    Thanks in advance

    Attached Files:

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  2. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    The window would tend to say no its not
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  3. Lucusmclucus

    Lucusmclucus Member

    I think the window might have been punched through later.
  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

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  5. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I remember the brick built air raid shelters that were constructed in the middle of streets for rows of terraced housing in Castleford in the West Riding of Yorkshire.They were communal shelters for the two sides of the street and erected in the middle of the street as not to prevent the use of motorised emergency traffic .

    The brick sides of the shelter were substantial with a 6 inch approximate ceiling slab of concrete.There were no doors fitted as I remember.There were also communal brick built shelters in town.The anti blast feature was provided by a brick wall covering the entrance and arranged not to impede access or egress for the two passages it provided for the shelter.

    I think the images shown in posts #1 and #4 may have been private undertakings although the concept of protection against air attacks would be for urban shelters to be communal.

    As for Anderson shelters,we had a two panel one in the back garden as appropriate for a family of three at the start of the war.However the water table was high and there was always a couple of inches of water found to be standing at times.On air raid alerts we used to go to my uncles place nearby.He had incorporated their shelter into an underground dugout substantially reinforced by wood battens at the sides and top....a real snug place of safety but never tested by a bomb.
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  6. Lucusmclucus

    Lucusmclucus Member

  7. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Almost definitely so - poorly-cut half-brick ends exposed to aperture tell the story unless perpetrated by a particularly bad brickie. When I similarly punched a doorway through my garage's sidewall, and wanting to do so neatly, I took great care to remove and replace those the tidier other way round - looks much better despite my clumsily-reinforced mortar-work where most strength needed by striker plate if new door ever slammed shut.
    2005-06-02 - garage door.JPG
    Plus Owen's roof deduction makes complete sense to me in light of my post here (para 3). Heavy slabs like that generally need to be cast in situ, with a fair bit of forethought to support them whilst casting & setting, so you might look at the 1939 Register, for instance, to see whether its then owner was, say, in the building trade or even an influential councillor &c.

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  8. Lucusmclucus

    Lucusmclucus Member

    Thank you so much, which register is that?
  9. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

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  10. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Thanks Owen but, to be fair, any forum member unfamiliar with that Register is hardly likely to have the subscription necessary to make full use of FMP's version whereas Ancestry's 1939 England and Wales Register is more commonly available from libraries - crucially prepaid from Council Tax income. The sad reality seems to be that FMP's greedily-modular 'add-on' subscription model is contrarily more than most cash-strapped Councils can afford these belt-tightening days.

    Some brainstorming suggestions:
    • Check your library service's 'Online Services' web page, or whatever they call it, to see exactly what is currently available to you and where. You may be pleasantly surprised by your Council bucking the bean-counting trend !?

    • And then, of course, your Council's website should have at least one 'Local History' page to get you started - typically by referring to their own library-based team services and listing societies you might try near you.

    • Besides those more formal resources, in my experience, the web is awash with the likes of clubs and locally-informed bloggers. As one example, many now share walk descriptions online - some accounts remarkably-well stuffed with interesting factoids to encourage others to follow in their footsteps. They're all waiting to be found by suitably-imaginative web searchers and that's mainly down to you due to what you know that we don't.

    • Maybe even try sharing your location here - presumably most securely by adding it to your profile, for members' eyes only, before tipping us a wink - just to see what some of us may happen to know about your area/street.

    • Also because none of us can reasonably be expected to remember every thread on here in detail, I finally recommend topically searching this website, if you haven't done so already, as follows.
    1. The sadly-inconspicuous white search field below your username when logged in
    2. DDG with the focusing addition of
    And lest such search duplication sound daft to you, I might mention that it definitely works for the official likes of The Gazette with each approach often producing matches missed by the other. I find this particularly odd given the official engine's specialised nature but such is reality.

    PS (TIP):
    Call me a scatterbrain but I just remembered to add that both FMP and Ancestry offer free home access to stuff once or twice a year for several weekend days at a stretch or for even longer at Xmas. Someone on here in better touch than I usually posts to let us know and I rely upon our RSS news feed to get wind of them. Like many on here, I suspect, I'm a non-subscribing free member of both and so can take advantage of these promotional offers from home whenever this opportunity arises.

    Also, by maintaining a TO DO wish-list in between, I waste least time getting what I need. Its a habit I mainly developed to make the best of rationed PC access time in libraries - strictly 2h max in my Borough - but which has certainly also helped at TNA where 'Readers' also have to factor in physical document retrieval delays for anything not pre-orderable for immediate use.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
    Lucusmclucus likes this.

    ARPCDHG Member

    Yep, certainly looks like it to me. These were sometimes modified post-war with the insertion of a window - not an easy job. There is no other reason to have such a thick roof.
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  12. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Indeed not, especially if done before "The angle grinder was invented in 1954" as we've possibly been assuming too readily w/o yet really knowing when - nor, for that matter, where re perceived air raid risk - hint, hint, nudge, nudge. Atypical concrete bricks suggest E coast fenland bomber base country to me but that's just my currently-ill-informed best guess 'stab in the dark' FWIW.
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  13. Lucusmclucus

    Lucusmclucus Member

    The shelter in question is in Thornton Heath South London. Thanks for all the input. A free look at the 1939 register got me at least the names of the occupants in 1939. I will get round to paid ancestry access to dig further soon!
    Owen likes this.
  14. Little Friend

    Little Friend Senior Member

    I don't know if this was a air raid shelter or not. ? On the edge of Staverton airfield, Glos' I took these June 2010. Taken from the garden side of this cottage



    Another from the field side.

  15. Red Goblin

    Red Goblin Senior Member

    Sorry up front for this long post but it 'just growed' like Topsy - swelp me guv !

    Ah, Croydon makes a lot of sense as a danger zone so thanks for clearing that up but concrete bricks still bemuse me where clay must have been the norm. Sure, "concrete blocks" "became widely available in the 1930s" [Brinkley 9 p134] but, as I understand it, those were the long-obsolete big & weak aerated 'breeze blocks' once only properly used indoors for:
    1. Non-load-bearing internal dividing walls (before switching to stud partitions)
    2. Inner leaves (as we moved from 9" solid to thicker cavity wall construction)
    Maybe your shelter's concrete bricks were specially made - perhaps even DIY - for strength as their smooth appearance suggests a strong-but-unfortunately-brittle, cement-rich concrete mix almost devoid of resilient 'backbone' aggregate.

    And more's the pity that I know of no shelter-specific websites, like those for pillboxes, but they seem to have much in common structurally - like slab roofs and lesser brick-walled varieties being only bulletproof for starters - so it may cross-referentially help you to browse this quick pick of my WW2 home:front web link collection (simply alphabetized so as not to infer rank):
    And, finally lest I confused you before, here's a pro-forma example of my type 2 site search for your town - 42 matches, by my count, so Douglas Adams' fabled answer to life, the universe and everything? Dunno but at least worth a look I'll wager.

    @ Little Friend:
    I strongly suspect not as it seems both roofless and not very strong but the external buttressing does look non-domestic to me - functionally less concerned with outward appearance than providing a straight-walled bulk storage space within perhaps. RAF Staverton only seems to have been a flying & navigational training school, though, so it was probably not even used as a blank ammo arsenal? Staverton (Gloucestershire) - Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust UK tantalizingly claims "Current Status: Aviation / Museum" but infuriatingly omits URL/contact info. Unable to readily find any other mention of such a museum online, I suspect that to be a bum steer but a certain local MB may be in a better position than I to track down such a body to ask ?

    TIP (while I think of it re RAF Staverton's runway layout):
    Anyone wanting to share a UK location without mucking about annotating & uploading screenshots &c, can alternatively build and share suitable URLs c/o several mapping websites but Streetmap currently excels by uniquely adding a pointer to decent OS mapping thus:
    1. Home in on your target at an optimum zoom level
    2. Keep using the 'Move Arrow' tool until happy
    3. Optionally refine 2 by testing at higher zoom levels
    4. Copy the final URL - e.g. for old runway crossing
    NB: The URL is easily manually tweaked (fine-tuned and/or pruned) by savvy users with little ado - esp. useful if unhappy with the accuracy of your arrow placement in a crowded area or to fit it into one line of a text-format e-mail message so the recipient may more reliably receive it clickably-unroken by extra 'new line' characters added in transit.
  16. Little Friend

    Little Friend Senior Member

    I took this one in 2014. This is just down from the Windmill at Lacey Green, Bucks. The windmill was used as a lookout post during the war. Bomber Command HQ just a bit further along. A Pillbox or Air raid shelter ?




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