Copyright 2014 Hidden Wirral
Tranmere contains one of the largest and most expensive WWII air raid shelters in the country. It consists of a series of tunnels stretching to a total length of 6500ft and was designed to house up to 6000 people (many of them workers at the strategically important Cammell Laird shipyard) - however by the time they were completed, they were no longer needed as the threat of invasion has diminished. The tunnels were later used by the Ministry of food for storage, and were considered as a nuclear fallout shelter during the cold war era. The tunnels were finally sealed off in 1989 amid growing H&S concerns. The tunnels still exist however and building work in 2008 uncovered a shaft - allowing temporary exploration of them, before being sealed off again and was not re-opened until January 2015. Here is a collection of original photographs from members of the Hidden Wirral Myths & Legends Faebook Group. Wouldn't it be great if these tunnels became a museum and part of our important heritage, to show off to the rest of the world? But for now all we can provide you with is pictures. With thanks to T.C & Degenatron for the extra pictures.
Air raid shelters were built specifically to serve as protection against enemy air raids. However, pre-existing edifices designed for other functions, such as underground stations (tube or subway stations), tunnels, cellars in houses or basements in larger establishments, and railway arches above ground, were suitable for safeguarding people during air raids. A commonly used home shelter was known as the Anderson shelter which would be built in a garden and equipped with beds as a refuge from air raids. The Tranmere Tunnels were unique and would survive better than any other shelter, due to the level in which the tunnels were constructed.
Old air-raid shelters, such as the Anderson, can still be found in back gardens, in which they are commonly used as sheds, or (on the roof which is covered with earth) as vegetables patches. Some are left empty or are filled with debris.
Countries that have kept air-raid shelters intact and in ready condition include Switzerland, Spain and Finland.