Air Raid Shelters in Blantyre

1972veverkalife12In November 1940, the county council were forced to issue a statement about the provision of Air raid shelters.

The County A.R.P. Controller (Mr W.H. Rodger,) in a report to the County Council, stated that the Government having meantime suspended the delivery of Anderson Steel air-raid shelters forced a situation where the Ministry of Home Security asked that local authorities should proceed to erect either individual shelters or communal shelters. These were to be both built of brick, the latter to accommodate numbers of persons from 12 up to 48.

The A.R.P. Emergency Committee gave this matter very careful consideration, and, whilst their general policy had been not to proceed with the erection of individual shelters unless in exceptional cases, they had deemed it their duty. In view of the urgent necessity and wide-spread desire of the ratepayers in the districts, they entered into contracts with a large number of firms for the immediate construction of the communal type of shelter, of which Blantyre had several.

Quite a number were erected, and contractors had to do everything they possibly could to have the Emergency Committee and the Ministry of Home Security approve them once completed. It was intimated that the cost of the erection of the shelters was met by the treasury to the extent of 10s 6d in each £ spent in respect of material, plus an A.R.P. grant on the remainder. Partially funded, the burden which fell upon the Local Authority in the matter of shelters was not that heavy.

The number of communal shelters in Lanarkshire’s immediate contemplation was somewhere in the region of 500, but that was exclusive of those which would require to be constricted at housing schemes belonging to the County Council. A survey of these was carried out, and instructions were given for commencement to be made with the erection of shelters in several housing schemes in August 1940.

A number of important towns and villages in the county e.g., Larkhall, Newmains, Shotts, Carluke and Lanark, etc immediately adjoined the areas in which free shelter accommodation had been been provided. The Ministry made representation that these towns and villages should receive the same consideration as their neighbours.
Owing to shortages of timber, it was not possible meantime to provide seats in public shelters.

The public air raid shelters in Blantyre only lasted for war years, demolished in 1945. Amongst the ARP stations in Blantyre was one at Larkfield and one at Priestfield.


Householders who have been supplied with Anderson shelters were reminded that an emergency exit is provided, to be used in the event of the ordinary exit being blocked. The corrugated sheet which forms the exit was held in position by two upright steel clips. The spanner, with which each householder was supplied and which should be kept in the shelter, could be used to slacken the bolts holding the clips. A spade was asked to be kept in the shelter at all times. (presumably in case it was bombed and people needed to dig their way out).

Our house in Stonefield Crescent had a small Anderson shelter, which us kids used as a bike shed in the 1970s. It took until the 1990s for it to be demolished, but I have heard of some Anderson shelters in Blantyre still surviving today. Pictured in 1972, beside my mother and I, is our Anderson “hut”.

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Caroline Lee 128 Victoria St, Anderson shelter was still there summer 2015.

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