Air Raid Shelters at M/S Factory Dalbeattie :
Ministry of Supply Factory Dalbeattie was a critical part of Britain's ammunition supply industry, as such a presumed
target for air attack. For this reason, the site was particularly well equipped with an assortment of air raid shelters,
sited near enough to the buildings for staff to reach them easily. Many still survive despite 60 years of farm and army
demolition, a record of the resources spent to protect the lives of the essential staff at the Factory. They vary in size
from small 10-person shelters and 25-person shelters up to massive 50-person shelters like the one illustrated above.
As they are a lesser item in the buildings inventory, they have so far been noted but only six have been investigated - partly
due to thornbushes at their entries and a certain amount of mud. Internally, they are in surprisingly good condition,
needing only a few finishings to restore them to use.
Some of the buildings - for example, the Canteen ground floor and the blockhouses by the Nitration Hills - are so
strongly built that they appear to have been able to stand up to anything but a direct hit. It is possible that staff
were also sheltered in these structures in the event of an air raid.
Types of Air Raid Shelter :
10-person Shelter :-
These have been found near the 'Wet Mix' and Drying buildings. They have a standard right-angle blast-trap entry, with signs
of an inner door into a small strongly-built chamber. At the far end are the remains of a timber cubicle for a chemical
toilet and beside it the metal ladder to the manhole of the escape shaft. The manhole cover is usually missing. It appears
from some locations that the cover was supported on heavy bolts to allow through-ventilation. There are signs of light
fittings on the ceilings inside most shelters. No furniture is present but it is guessed that free-standing benches were
used for seating.
20/25-person Shelter :-
Similar in internal provision to the 10-person shelter but with greater length. Much the most common size surviving, usually
(unfortunately) without the manhole cover.
50-person Shelter :-
The example in the field by 'The Trees' bungalow at Edingham is rather full of cattle-dung. It is a double version of the
25-person shelter, the escape hatch ends being back to back. This particular example is a few minutes' dash from the
site of the administrative block on the corner of the road junction.
Buildings with possible Built-In Shelters :
The most obvious ones so far identified are the Press Houses' back passages which an ARP notice clearly states could be used in an
emergency. The other likely ones are the ground floors of the Canteens, whose heavy construction and reinforced concrete interfloor show
it may have been used as the Canteens' air raid shelters.
Almost opposite the Canteen and Boiler House is the blast-walled and windowless Fire Station, Decontamination and First
Aid building. This would have a very obvious role as a shelter in the event of an air attack.
Air Raid Shelters tend to be a neglected subject in most wartime sites, but the well-preserved assemblage at M/S Factory
Dalbeattie has thrown light on the importance of these structures, for morale onsite if nothing else.
As with other structures on the Factory site, there is need for further investigation.