Catalogue description Ministry of Home Security: 'O' Division: Correspondence and Papers

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Details of HO 205
Reference: HO 205
Title: Ministry of Home Security: 'O' Division: Correspondence and Papers

Papers of the division set up within the Air Raid Precautions Department in January 1939 to deal with matters relating to the provision of air raid shelters.

Date: 1934-1956
Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Ministry of Home Security, O Division, 1939-1945

Physical description: 385 file(s)
Access conditions: Subject to 30 year closure unless otherwise stated
Administrative / biographical background:

'O' division was established within the Air Raid Precautions Department of the Home Office 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:

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

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

In late 1940 it was decided that the Ministry of Health should deal with the internal management of large shelters, with the Ministry of Home Security remaining responsible for the supply, distribution and construction of shelters. The appropriate branch of the division was accordingly transferred to the Ministry of Health. Also transferred was the Heating and Ventilation of Shelters Committee established in October 1940 under the chairmanship of Sir Alexander Rouse, the Chief Engineer of the Ministry of Home Security. Late in 1940 a Tube Shelters Committee was set up jointly by the two ministries in association with the branch of the division responsible for the internal management of shelters. Its activities centred on the preparation and management of deep underground shelters in the London region. At the end of the war some of them were transferred to the War Office and others to the Ministry of Works.

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