During World War 2, Many of our streets changed their appearance by the Government’s directive to build Air Raid Shelters for the protection of the residents during an Air Raid. A precaution for when bombs were being dropped on our Country by the enemy planes. When an air raid was imminent the sirens would sound giving people plenty of time to get out of the house and into the shelters. A different sound from the sirens would ring out when it was safe to return to the houses. Also in close proximity were huge static water tanks, also a directive , so water to put out any fires from the bombs and the many incendiary bombs that were unleashed on our towns and cities was on hand.
Air Raid shelters were built on the streets of Mansfield where there were many occupants living on the streets of terraced houses that were everywhere around our town. Many of the ” well off ” people who owned their houses, would use a dug out in there garden as a shelter from the bombs, some even used to go into their cellars.
The street shelters were built centralised on the road in the streets, built to one side to allow what little traffic there was at that time to get by. They were built very strongly to withstand any blast from an explosion, unless of course they had a direct hit. I have tried to give some idea of how they looked and were built in the sketches below.
They were built to give as much protection as possible. They were rectangular in shape. Having a square opening in the centre of each of the small ends about a metre square. These were always left open, I believe for access in and out, also for any blast to escape. I believe the outer walls were 3 bricks thick. Each of the long sides of the rectangle had two wooden doors , the doors on each side , facing the opposite door . Once again, the doors allowed entrance and exit from one side to the other. Any blast would blow the doors off, whilst giving wall cover protection to the occupants.
Inside, on either side of the shelter were banks of bunk beds, three high , probably 12 beds each side of each compartments. Each compartment had the protection of a thick inner wall covering the ends of each row of bunk beds, leaving a passageway all along the middle of the shelter. The bunk beds were made of wood with hessian beds.
The shelters had roofs of about 12 inch reinforced concrete.
There were two of these shelters on Bradder Street, both on our side of the street, one nearer to the middle of the street, and another near the bottom. Funny thing is, I cannot recall if there was one on Sibthorpe Street. There was also one in the Brickyard.
Although the sirens were sounded many times during the war, I can only remember going into the shelters on two occasions; once in the middle of the night, when I remember seeing a German plane caught in the searchlights. The other was when I was at school in the infants. At the sound of the siren, we children would have to walk in file to the underground shelter that had been dug out of the field to the rear of the infants..
It must have cost a fortune to build all the shelters, Thank the Lord we didn’t need them.