Tuesday 1 May 2012

Harpenden WW2 Air Raid Shelters, April 2012

Whilst researching the WW2 shelters in Luton I got onto thinking that if they had shelters built there surely some of the surrounding towns would as well?
So after randomly typing in towns near Luton into Google, Harpenden popped up with 4+ shelters scattered around the town. Bingo!

On our way back from a trip to Oxfordshire, Fubah and myself decided to push our luck, chuck on some high vis and lift some lids. It always fascinates me that as soon as you put on high visibility jackets to make you visable it actually does the complete opposite. No one batters an eye lid. (or so we thought)
The first shelter we explored on queens road was fine. We hopped out the car, lifted the lid and went straight in, no probs! We even got greeted on our way out by a local land lady from a nearby pub, who used to play in the shelters when she was a kid.
The 2nd shelter however was a bit 'hotter'. Situated right in the centre of town with plenty of people about.
High vis on, Manhole found, lid lifted... oops! fooked that up! biggest n00b mistake ever.
So after fishing the manhole cover back out from the shelter we headed down to get some snaps.
Once back in the car however 3 police cars with sirens blazing pulled up and stopped at the common right where we had lifted the lid. Not hanging about to find out if it was us they were after we made a quick getaway.

Survey's were mapped out in 2007 by Archaeological Services & Consultancy Ltd on behalf of Harpenden Town Council to establish there exact locations, and determine there current condition.

Typical construction of the shelters

A key to one of the shelters used to be kept in a glass box on the wall of a nearby house to prevent vandalism and misuse yet allowing it to be used in an emergency.
Another shelter had a manhole cover barred and padlocked over the access in 1983 due to children using the shelter for glue sniffing costing the council £30 to seal it.

Images are abit different from the norm. Fubah kindly bought me a funny little wide angle lens adapter thingy costing him a massive £4 from a charity shop that I decided to try out. Bargain! Cheers fella.

See the video of us lifting (and dropping) the manhole below.


  1. How brilliant! I'd love to do that.

  2. Love this one, high vis jackets a great idea!