HO 205 - Ministry of Home Security: 'O' Division: Correspondence and Papers.

The 'O' division was established within the Air Raid Precautions Department of the Home Office (later the Ministry of Home Security) in January 1939, and was responsible for the administrative work on the design, financing, supply, and distribution of shelters, though it worked in close conjunction with the Research and Experiments Department and the Chief Engineer's Department on design questions.

The division was chiefly concerned with:

  • the distribution of domestic shelters through local authorities;
  • the provision of shelters to factories engaged in important government contracts;
  • the issue of instructions on the duties of Regional Technical Advisers and Factory Inspectors;
  • local authorities' shelter schemes for commercial premises, and with the Mines Inspectorate for the provision of shelters in mines;
  • the maintenance of statistics on progress and cost, and the drawing up of estimates; and
  • correspondence from owners of factory premises, commercial buildings, and mines.

Many domestic shelters were distributed free to households for both indoor and outdoor construction. The outdoor "Anderson" shelter, and later the indoor "Morrison" shelter, and others providing still better protection, were also put on the market.

The series contains narrative and statistical progress reports on the provision of both public and domestic shelters in each of the thirteen Civil Defence Regions of the U.K. (including Northern Ireland). These have been digitized for inclusion in the resource, alongside the records of the official enquiry into the Bethnal Tube Shelter Disaster of March 1943, in which at least 173 people lost their lives due to a crush in the underground tube shelter.

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