The Government continued to resist pressures to provide bomb proof shelters for the population at large after the Munich Crisis. They did not however prevent Local Authorities from utilizing tunnels, vaults etc as shelters, and the most well known example was the London Underground. In Ipswich the use of Stoke Vaults as a shelter is a good example. Another example from Ipswich was the provision of 14” thick blast walls to certain pedestrian tunnels. Some schools also provided their own shelters in addition to trench shelters e.g. the shelters at St Felix School, Southwold which were constructed prior to the War and the tunnel shelter at Clifford Road School. This is a remarkable shelter, much stronger than most other shelters. It was basically a buried shelter lined with concrete arched segments, consisted of 13 sections each with a stairway and a four foot thick floor designed to withstand the upward blast of a buried bomb.
Right: Two entrances to the shelters at St Felix
The Government also emphasized the methods which people could protect themselves by making ‘refuge rooms’ and issuing various materials to carry out strengthening of rooms. This was no doubt done because of the cost of providing shelters and also shortages of free shelters such as the Anderson.
Right: Three cigarette cards
showing how households
should select a 'refuge room'
and how to make it gas proof.
The strengthening of basements was considered an easy way of providing air raid shelters. The standard method of strengthening basements was to issue tubular steel struts which supported rolled steel joists above which was a corrugated iron sheeting lining. Details survive of work carried out to strengthen four basements in Bungay. The work included propping and sandbagging, electiricty installation, cutting ventiliation into doors, provision of steps for access and the provision of notice boards. The work was carried out at Earsham House, Market Place, Messrs Richard Clay & Co Ltd, Cross Street and Messrs Watney, Coombe & Reid Co, Nethergate Street for a total cost of £172.13.6. Many basement shelters did not perform well, near misses often shaking down the basement strengthening.
As the threat of invasion receeded, the Military authorities often allowed pillboxes to be used by the public for shelters - Jarvis notes that a pillbox outside the Suffolk Hotel, Lowestoft was allowed to be used for such a purpose.
Enterprise versus Bureaucracy – The Development of Structural Air-Raid Precautions during the 2nd World War, Lord Barker of Windrush, O.B.E., Sc.D.,F.R.S., C.Eng, Pergamon Press 1978
Fortress Lowestoft, R Jarvis, The Heritage Workshop Centre, 2002
Clifford Road Air Raid Shelter Museum Website