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Glenelg Air-Raid Shelter

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by Annie Waddington-Feather (subscribe)
Born in Yorkshire, raised in Shropshire, travelled the world. Lived in Adelaide and currently in UK. Love travel, ancient history, horses, cello playing, the unusual and obscure, and pottering in my own back yard. Visit my website
Published April 26th 2013
The side of Glenelg Football Oval is an unlikely place to house a piece of Adelaide's war time history, however situated on Rugless Terrace, is the Glenelg Air-Raid Shelter which houses an interesting little exhibition detailing City of Holdfast Bay's community involvement in the various wars.

The shelter itself was one of several air-raid shelters built by the South Australian government should World War II come to Australia. The Government built them next to football ovals because not only were they were thought to be unlikely targets, but they were well known to the community and adjacent to an open space. The shelters weren't built to protect people; their use was for communications and also to store emergency food, blankets and other supplies. In the event of an air raid, people were to gather at the oval and then they'd be bused to Strathalbyn. Since it was built, the Shelter has had a lot of uses including being used as a meeting hall for Scouts, the footie locker room and changing room for cheerleaders!

Glenelg air-raid shelter
Glenelg air-raid shelter entrance
Entry to the shelter is down a fairly steep flight of steps (there are no lifts), which take you into the well-lit, whitewashed complex consisting of the Battery Room, Stores and Communications room. In the main room there are a couple of cabinets with some war-time artefacts including a gas mask and field telephone. On one of the walls in this room there is a really informative chart which timelines World War II. However the main focus of the exhibition is what was happening at home.

The many newspaper cuttings give a fascinating insight into suburban daily life and how the war was affecting the community at this time. There are reports on community groups making and donating goods to help the war effort, interviews with families who'd housed billeted children and articles on how to make your shelter splinter proof as well as advice on what to do if you find an incendiary device. I also found it interesting to see adverts explaining how to save fuel, and also Ryans fabrics had a special on sheer hose at just two shillings.
war communications
communications in the bunker

Also on display are also the Glenelg Town Council meeting minutes from the time which give you a further insight into how the community was affected; mentions of those who were killed in action remind us of the impact it would've had on local families. And in another room there's a display dedicated to prisoners of war.

Although the exhibition's primary focus is World War II, there is also information on Australia's involvement in other wars including World War 1, the Vietnam and Korean wars, and the Boer War.
war museums
displays in the bunker

The inspiration behind the exhibition is Jim Huckstepp who together with his wife Bev is on hand to give further explanations about the exhibits.

The shelter is open every third Sunday of the month, 1 4pm and also Anzac Day (25 April) and Armistice/ Remembrance Day (11 November). It's free to enter, but there is a donation box to help with its upkeep.
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Where: Brighton Rd, Glenelg East SA 5045
Your Comment
Well done Annie, you've dug up a piece of history that even many of us locals were unaware of.

There is another air raid shelter on South Rd too which is open for About Time.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11307) 2768 days ago
The Chrysler Valiant Car Club of SA in the early 1980s used the Glenelg shelter for a meeting room, we got the keys from the Glenelg Football Club groundsman. We actually painted out the whole building inside during a working bee. We only had the building for about 18 months due to the club dissolving.

Shaun McEvoy
by sgmc (score: 0|2) 555 days ago
by Kat May on 09/04/2018
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