In November 1938, Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain placed Sir John Anderson in charge of Air Raid Precautions.
Anderson immediately commissioned the engineer, William Patterson, to design a small and cheap shelter that could be erected in people’s gardens.
The first ‘Anderson’ shelter was erected in a garden in Islington, London on 25 February 1939.
Between then and the outbreak of the war in September, around 1.5 million shelters were distributed to people living in areas expected to be bombed by the Luftwaffe.
During the war a further 2.1 million Anderson shelters were erected.
An estimated 50,000 lives were saved by use of the Anderson shelters although critics think there were better alternatives and only 27% of Londoners actually had their own shelter. 9% of the capital’s residents used public shelters and 4% went down the underground while the majority were either involved in night work or just stayed indoors.
The Anderson shelters were uncomfortable especially in cold weather prompting the government to issue advice to improve the situation.
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