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About the Air Raid Shelters

2. History

Museums - Outside of the Air Raid Shelters

Opened in 1939, the shelters were the largest purpose-built civilian air raid shelters in the country.

They were originally designed to provide shelter for up to 3,850 people but due to demand they were extended to accommodate as many as 6,500 during the second world war.

This labyrinth of tunnels, nearly a mile long, were carved out of the red sandstone hills on which Stockport stands. During the dark days of the Blitz they provided shelter and a way of life for families from in and around Stockport.

In 1996, Stockport Council re-opened the shelters as a visitor attraction. They have been imaginatively restored to give visitors the feel of the era and struggle that Britain was facing.

The intriguing network of underground tunnels offers visitors an unparalleled insight into life in 1940’s wartime Britain. From the displays in the tunnels and from a state-of -the-art audio guide visitors have the opportunity to learn about the experiences of local people during the war.

Explore this underground world and experience a way of life beneath Stockport's streets - fitted with electric light, wooden benches, bunk beds, wardens’ post, and a first aid post.

Did you know:

  • The shelters were fitted with basic amenities: electric lights, benches and bunk beds, flushing toilets, first aid post and sick bay - there were even facilities for nursing mothers!

  • In the war the shelters were nicknamed the Chestergate Hotel because of the ‘luxurious’ standard of accommodation they offered the shelters also had 16-seater toilets

  • Everyone had to possess a gas mask and carry it with them wherever they went.