They survived doodlebugs and the Luftwaffe’s air raids. Now, 80 years on, Britain’s remaining air raid shelters host kids’ parties, flowers and foxes. Why are so many people still so fascinated by them?

Martin Stanley’s Anderson shelter rests at the foot of his back garden. Partially submerged and covered with thick tufts of grass and flowers as well as other foliage, it stands as a monument to a time when life in this terrace house in Oval, south London, was very different.

Anderson shelters were named after Sir John Anderson, the lord privy seal in charge of air raid precautions in 1938, and were made from corrugated steel or iron panels that formed a semi-circular shape. They were designed to be dug into people’s gardens to protect families from air raids. More than 2m shelters were issued to families during the second world war. All these years later, some houses still have them in their gardens, while many more could still be submerged, awaiting discovery.

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