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Whitstable at War - World War II 

.... Communal Shelters in Whitstable

     

Air Raid Shelters & Sirens

  

The government were obviously aware of many types of weapon that might be used and that these would be directed at the civilian population. This would be the first major conflict in which civilian populations would be targetted from the air. As a result, sirens were placed around the town to warn of incoming aircraft and air raid shelters were hastily constructed in key locations. 

 

At the Workplace...

Some of the shelters were located close to workplaces. As John Harman has explained in one of our other feature articles, one was built alongside the Guinea public house in Island Wall and served the workers at the Anderson, Rigden and Perkins boatyard. Mark Foreman has mentioned one at the harbour for people in the maritime industries. 

 

In Schools...

Substantial brick shelters were constructed at schools and we will describe these a little later in our "School Life" chapter.. 

 

Communal Shelters....

Shelters were also built for more widespread communal use in the centre of densely populated areas such as Harbour Street as John Moore indicates in this message from Australia..... 

  

We passed some incendiaries on our way to the shelter in Harbour St. (between the fish shop and the ‘duck your head sweet shop’)

John Moore
Frankston
Victoria
Australia

   

Shortage of open space meant that there had to be improvisation. Wide or infrequently used roads provided makeshift sites as John Harman explains below... 

  

In the "West End" area  of Whitstable, there were three row shelters built. These yellow brick, 'dog kennel terraces', were built down the centre of the road - one being down the centre of Waterloo Rd., one in Shaftsbury Rd., and another in the approach to Collingwood Rd., opposite the Westend Dairy. 

 

Waterloo Road today:
Location for WWII roadway shelters

 

These narrow brick structures had a gabled concrete roof, and there were several entrances along their length. Inside, they were furnished with crude bunk beds, made from 2x4s and sacking, that smelt terrible. 

At the ends of each shelter, there were square sections of brickwork that had very weak mortar. This was so that it could be knocked out if need be. 

These road shelters, were very soon dismantled, almost before the end of the war.

John Harman
Sidney
British Columbia

  

Grass verges were also used.....

 

There were yellow brick shelters in Westgate Terrace near the corner of Cromwell Road North opposite the row of houses by the backwater (Gorrell Tank). 

Garth Wyver
Blackheath
NSW
Australia

 

Most of shelters in the centre of town were removed soon after the war to allow life to return to normal. Sometimes, this involved foreign aid!....

  

As a kid, I watched the demolition of the Wetsgate Terrace shlters. Some of the workmen were Italian POW's. 

Garth Wyver
Blackheath
NSW
Australia

 

On the outskirts, the need for demolition was less immediate and some shelters remained as a legacy of war for some years...

  

There were old Air Raid shelters situated adjacent to the far corner of Grimthorpe Avenue before all the new housing that became part of the Valkyrie Avenue expansion. 

I remember playing in them vividly in the late 60's many many times, with that lovely view right down to Joy lane and the shoreline. Any pix of those structures would be nice to see, and surprised no one has put any on the site actually....I am sure the breathtaking views from those old structures was well photographed, if not the structures themselves. 

Alan Leaver
Sheffield

    

Thus children of the 1950s would grow up amidst the remnants of conflict.

    


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