The Air Raid Shelters

air raid shelter plan

Air Raid Shelter Plan (click on image for a full size view)

Mr Shaw undertook a site visit of the Air Raid Shelters just before the construction of the Camelot room in 2004. He has written some notes for us about the construction of the shelters and his observations. Click on any of the images to see them in full size.

To build the shelter a network of trenches, probably about 2.5m deep and 1.5m wide, were dug in the school playground.

Concrete panels

Pre-cast re-enforced concrete panels

The shelter tunnels themselves are made of pre-cast re-enforced concrete panels rather like a sectional concrete garage.

Air raid shelter slab instructions

Pencilled instructions

These were made off-site and were assembled in trenches to make the tunnels. The walls and roof are panels that lock together (and there is a pencilled diagram on one slab that shows how they lock together).

The bottoms of the wall panels were kept apart by concrete beams. As the tunnels were assemble from the pre-cast concrete parts the trenches were backfilled with the soil dug out from them and the whole playground levelled once construction had finished so that there was about 60cm of soil over the tunnels.

The tunnels are made of straight sections and right angled turns with dead ends. This design of the passages with the frequent corners was so that the blast from a direct hit by a bomb would be deflected and so, in theory, reduce casualties. They underlie the whole of the playground.

Air raid shelter stairs

Air raid shelter stairs

There were seven sets of stairs into the shelter from the playground built, in part, of brick with steel handrails. When the shelter was closed the parts of these entrances above the playground were demolished and the rubble dumped onto the steps. The open holes were then covered with concrete slabs and it is the joints around these that can be seen as the cracks in the playground today. In addition to the stairways there is a small shaft from the shelter to the surface, probably for ventilation purposes or for the lighting cables to be laid into the shelter, about 50cm square which is close to the fire escape stairway in the playground.

The floors were made of ordinary paving slabs laid on the concrete ribs so that there was some drainage space below the floor. In this space drain pipes were laid to take any water away. In some parts of the shelter these slabs have been removed before it was sealed.

Ordinary paving slab floors

Air raid shelter ribbed floor

Ribbed floors and drainage.

air raid shelter manual fan

A manual fan

In the shelter are occasional traces of lighting wiring and fittings can be seen and the remains of at least three manual fans that were used to help circulate air. These were made of plywood with bicycle pedals and chains to power the metal fans inside. The shelter tunnels near to the trees have some large tree roots running along the floor.

Mr Shaw’s inspection

 

 

The National Lottery heritage lottery fund logoAylestone Ward funding logoWrite Mindful logoGranby Primary school logo