Express & Star

Meet the Black Country couple with a 'posh' Second World War bunker at the end of their garden

A couple of 1940s re-enactors are inviting the community to come and see their authentic Second World War shelter - so comfortable they sometimes sleep in it.

The inside of the shelter is equipped for people to sleep in and listen to the radio

Amos and Cheryl Burke have built an original 1940s Anderson Shelter in the back garden of their home in Pelsall.

The couple have been members of the World War II reenactment group Spirit of the Homefront for six years, travelling across the country and talking about different 1940s subjects, with Mrs Burke an ex-nurse who demonstrates a range of medical items from the time.

Mr Burke said that the shelter, which he said he and his wife sometimes slept in, had been offered to him by a member of the public who said it was in his field.

Amos and Cheryl Burke relax outside their Anderson Shelter

He said: "I went down to have a look at it and saw how big it was, big enough to make two shelters, so the guy donated it to me and I began to wonder what it would be like to have that in my garden.

"I spent about 10 hours digging up the garden, moving the soil, installing the shelter and filling it all back in and we then just tried it out, going in with just a radio and a paper and sleeping in there."

The shelter in the Burkes' garden

Mr Burke said the shelters were a feature of the war, with families evacuating their homes during air raids and, sometimes, spending up to six or seven hours inside, with only items such as books, cards and a radio available, until the all-clear was given.

He said that while the shelters weren't bomb-proof, they would protect people if a bomb hit their home. He spoke about the memories they invoked for people and how they should be looked after.

There are authentic touches all around the shelter, including the radio

"We talk a lot to older people and they remember the shelters being very damp and dank and full of creepy-crawlies, but as long as you keep the door open, air it and don't just abandon it, it will be fine.

"People enjoy seeing it and say they feel like it's a camping experience and enjoy seeing what is like a shed buried in the ground, six feet high and long and four-and-a-half feet wide.

Amos and Cheryl Burke in the shelter

"They would tell us how they would get into it with only a chair or a radio and they do comment on how much stuff we have in ours, saying that it looks like a posh shelter.

"If I could encourage people to come and see it, I would say that it's an authentic experience and kids will find it hard to believe that you could be down there with just a comic and candles for company, but it's a very comfortable and realistic shelter."

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