Bedroom shelter raised a smile

'I have in my hand a piece of paper, guaranteeing peace in this bedroom!' While it may look like a frightening scene from the latest Fifty Shades of Grey movie, the year is 1941 and Mr John Beanland (real name), of Foyers Street, Springburn, has obviously misread the instructions on his Anderson Shelter, choosing to erect it in the marital bedroom. While old paw Beanland looks delighted with his handiwork, his wife, Mary, looks like she's trying to stifle a laugh. After all, it’s not often a press photographer asks to see inside a lady’s bedroom! We suspect she's thinking: 'I'd sooner take a direct hit from one of Mr Hitler's Doodlebugs that put up with another night of his snoring...' Trouble is, if her man was sleeping in the shelter, we suspect its corrugated-iron contours would have acted as a giant sound box, only amplifying his nocturnal noises!

Protect and survive

The shelters were designed in 1938 by William Paterson and Oscar Carl (Karl) Kerrison in response to a request from the Home Office. It was named after Edinburgh-born Sir John Anderson, then Lord Privy Seal with special responsibility for preparing air-raid precautions.

Anderson shelters - 6 feet (1.8 m) high, 4.5 feet (1.4 m) wide, and 6.5 feet (2.0 m) long - were designed to accommodate up to six people, and were meant to be buried in your garden.

They were issued free to all householders who earned less than £5 a week. Those with a higher income were charged £7 for their shelter. One and a half million shelters of this type were distributed between February 1939 and the outbreak of war. During the war a further 2.1 million were erected.

At the end of the war, households who had received an Anderson shelter were expected to remove their shelters and local authorities began the task of reclaiming the corrugated iron. Householders who wished to keep their Anderson shelter (or more likely the valuable metal) could pay a nominal fee.

Because of the large number made and their robustness, many Anderson shelters still survive. Many were dug up after the war and converted into storage sheds for use in gardens and allotments. There’s still a fair few to be seen in Glasgow, including a pristine example in the People’s Palace.

Story travelled across the Atlantic

Incredibly, when this picture first appeared in the Evening Times, it travelled all the way to the United States.

Charlotte Beanland Bonawitz, of New York, contacted us to say: “I remember as a child my father telling me about his Uncle John who built an Anderson Hut in his bedroom. My Grandfather Samuel and John were brothers. We received this clipping in Yonkers where we lived in the 1940s during WW2. We didn't know much about Anderson Huts but at the time we thought it was pretty cool!

“The original cutting reads: ‘New Styles in Interior Decoration: John Beanland, a resident of Glasgow, Scotland, who objected to leaving his warm home to spend the night in a cold, damp shelter during the air raids, builds an Anderson hut in his bedroom for himself and his wife’.”

Charlotte adds: “John died, aged 81, on September 13 1942. His wife Mary, nee Jardine, died aged 78, in 1949.”

Norry Wilson – Lost Glasgow Facebook

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