Air raid shelters

Studio portrait of me
From the private collection of Stevie Hobbs nee Stevens

The dog always first in

We had what was known as  a “Morrison Table Shelter” in the dining room. A huge thing made of steel which had a slatted floor and wire sides which you pulled in after you and fixed with hooks. We seldom put the last side in and, Nan never came in it. The dog, Gyp, was always the first in. As he heard the sirens, in he ran to get the best place to sleep. We had to be woken if asleep and got downstairs in our pyjamas and dressing gowns. I’m surprised Nan didn’t make us wash too.

Nan was claustrophobic

Nan never came into the Morrison shelter as she was claustrophobic. Instead she stood on the front door-step letting in the cold air – of course no lights could be shown. She said it was in case anyone wanted to come in and use the shelter. How would we have got them in we used to ask?  Bedding was always kept in there and we kept warm as best we could in an unheated house – and it was in the coldest room in the house because no sun ever shone there.

Anderson shelters

Worse off were those people who had opted to have Anderson shelters in the garden. As we had no man we could never have dug a hole big enough. The garden was solid chalk anyway, below the top couple of inches. I didn’t know anyone who had one locally.

I knew every shelter in Brighton

If you were outdoors when the alarm for a raid went off, there was never any hurry about taking shelter. People just sort of ambled in as if going to the theatre. I probably knew the inside of every shelter in Brighton. I loved them. There were always other kids to talk to and you could listen to the grown ups talk.

Comments about this page

  • Hi Stevie, I really like your story, its difficult now to think that most of the homes in Brighton must have had similar shelters. How did they all come-about, perhaps parts were provided by the authorities and then self assembled, I guess? It would be great if you could make a list of where all the outdoor shelters you can remember were. Perhaps some form of simple description underground/overground and the capacity; it would make a good page. I would be happy to help, with photos of the exact position now, if you are interested in a joint venture? I was told that there was an underground shelter in Dyke Road Park, under what is now the children’s playground.

    By Peter Groves (11/12/2011)
  • There were underground shelters at the bottom of High Street and after White Street was bombed (see White Street pages) a shelter was built on the land. We used to go to the wine cellars of the Royal Pavilion which were turned into shelters with two tier bunks. There was also an underground shelter in the land in front of the houses in Montpelier Crescent which, as I went to Montpelier College, we often got into and, for want of a better term, mucked about in!

    By Ken Ross (11/12/2011)
  • Hi Stevie. Just a short note ref air-raid shelters. Do you remember the one in Grenville Place, it was demolished in the early 50s? Afraid the only other one I remember was in St Ann’s Wells Gardens.

    By John Wignall (01/01/2012)
  • I am currently doing an archaeology project about Brighton and Hove / Portslade shelters in WW2. I was wondering whether you would possibly be able to list me whereabouts the shelters were that you remember, as there is not much surviving evidence today of where and when they were put up. This would be very helpful, and I would be very grateful. Thanks!

    By Becca Terry (26/03/2013)
  • I didn’t grow up during the war, I was born in 1957 and went to Moulsecoomb Infants and Juniors School. I know there are a couple of air raid shelters in the playground of the old Junior school (this would be approached from the hillside entrance in Moulsecoomb). The entrances were bricked up while I was there in the 60’s but we understood that the shelters went under the bank at the back of the playground. I don’t know if they are still there but I have always been interested in the history of the shelters as my Mum went to the school during the war and would have used them. There was also evidence of shelters at the back of the old Moulsecoomb Seniors School building (now the primary school) on the Lewes Road when I went there in the late 60’s.

    By Paul Clarkson (28/03/2013)
  • Hi there, I was just researching some info I have received about public air raid shelters in Brighton, and came across your site. I have a list of shelters compiled by a serving Police officer. If anybody is interested please get in touch. Regards Garry.

    By Garry Prismall (15/05/2014)
  • I live in Saunders Park View in the old army barrack houses and was told there could possibly be an air raid shelter under my garden and was wondering if anyone knows where I could find out if there is, as would like to try and find it if there is one.

    By Kellie (05/06/2014)
  • Hi there, I believe I have just found an air raid shelter in my garden and I’m really not quite sure what to do with such a piece of history. I would be interested to see if it is on your list Garry? How do I get in touch with you?

    By Lisa MacDonald (14/07/2014)
  • Hi Kellie, I used to live in the old barracks when it was the army barracks and can confirm that there are shelters in the gardens. They were more to the side of the garden rather than actually on it though. You would definitely know one If you saw one.

    By Gill Dopen (05/07/2015)
  • Hi, I had totally forgotten about the post I made two years ago sorry, thank you for your reply. I was wondering what type of air raid shelter would of been in my garden in Saunders Park View? The upper part of my garden is apparently where the shelter was/is. I think I would need to start digging if I was to find it, but my garden is big and wouldn’t know where to start, although would love to find it. Sorry again it’s taken two years to reply – have saved page now.

    By Kellie (19/05/2016)

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.