Museum offers shelter

PUBLISHED: 11:33 18 May 2006 | UPDATED: 10:09 06 May 2010

The Anderson Shelter

The Anderson Shelter

A NEW exhibit at Hitchin Museum will take visitors through a gateway to the past. A World War II Anderson air raid shelter has been donated from its former home in Wymondley Road, Hitchin, and is expected to go on show to the public later this year. Made

A NEW exhibit at Hitchin Museum will take visitors through a gateway to the past.

A World War II Anderson air raid shelter has been donated from its former home in Wymondley Road, Hitchin, and is expected to go on show to the public later this year.

Made from corrugated iron and designed to be buried below ground, during the war the shelter would have been covered in earth, offering protection to its inhabitants during bombing raids.

In the early days of the War, in 1939 and 1940, up to two million Anderson shelters were put up in gardens as protection against German air raids.

They were designed to house up to six people in a space 6ft high, 4.5ft wide and 6.5ft long.

David Hodges, curator at the museum, knew the shelter had been well looked after by its previous owners, but was surprised at just how good a condition it was in when he went to dismantle it.

He said: "We were expecting to spend a lot of time on it as the bolts had not been undone for more than 60 years.

"We thought everything would be totally seized up.

"We tried the first bolt almost as a joke and it undid first time, it was no work at all.

"We just had a little bit of work with the blow torch where there was one patch-up place.

"It was just like Meccano."

The museum has wanted to get hold of an Anderson shelter for some time and had been forced to mock one up for the VE Day 60th anniversary events in 2005.

Now they can proudly display the real thing.

A section of the shelter will be installed at the entrance to the Yeomanry Gallery on the ground floor of the museum.

Mr Hodges said: "It will really contribute to the atmosphere, it will be almost like walking through a gateway.

"We are very pleased and we hope to get it up this summer.

"Getting one has been a priority and this is in exceptional condition."

Hitchin Museum in Paynes Park is open daily from 10am until 5pm, but closed Wednesday, Sunday and Bank Holidays.

For more information call 01462 434476.


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