The Morrison shelter was a type of air raid shelter used by civilians in the United Kingdom during World War II. It was designed to provide protection from aerial bombings and was named after Herbert Morrison, the Minister of Home Security at the time.
The Morrison shelter was a rectangular, steel-framed structure that could be assembled and placed within a home. It measured around 2 meters (6.5 feet) long, 1.2 meters (4 feet) wide, and 0.75 meters (2.5 feet) high. The shelter was made of steel mesh sides and a solid steel top, with a mattress placed inside for added comfort.
Unlike traditional outdoor air raid shelters, the Morrison shelter was designed to be used indoors. It was primarily intended for households living in urban areas where outdoor shelters, such as Anderson shelters or communal shelters, were not feasible due to limited space or high-rise buildings.
The shelter served a dual purpose, functioning both as a shelter during bombings and as furniture during normal times. It could be used as a dining table or desk during the day and converted into a shelter by removing the top and placing a mattress inside at night. This allowed families to make the most of limited living space.
The steel construction of the Morrison shelter provided protection against falling debris and collapsing structures during bombings. It was designed to withstand the impact of nearby explosions and offered a level of safety for occupants. However, direct hits or near misses could still pose a significant danger.
The Morrison shelter was generally considered effective in providing protection for families during air raids. Its indoor placement made it convenient and accessible, allowing people to quickly seek shelter in their own homes. Over half a million Morrison shelters were distributed across the UK during the war.
The shelter represented a significant shift in the approach to civilian protection during World War II. It reflected the government’s recognition of the importance of providing safety within the home itself. After the war, the concept of indoor shelters influenced the design and development of fallout shelters and safe rooms for protection against nuclear threats.
The Morrison shelter remains a symbol of the resilience and determination of the civilian population in the face of adversity during World War II. While it served as a practical solution to protect families from the dangers of aerial bombings, it also represented a sense of normalcy and the desire to maintain a semblance of everyday life even in the midst of war.