Built in 1942, the Glenelg Air Raid Shelter is a piece of local history that many locals don’t even know exists.
In the earlier half of the 20th century, a series of air raid shelters were built by the South Australian government in preparation should World War II reach Adelaide.
One such shelter, built by the Engineering and Water Supply Department (as it was known back then) was built on Rugless Terrace, next to the Glenelg Football Oval. Sporting oval’s were chosen for suburban air shelters as they were known to local residents and because areas of open space were considered an unlikely target.
The shelter has had various uses since being built, including a meeting room for local Scouts, and as a locker room for the Glenelg Football Club. Fortunately we have never experienced any air raids here in Adelaide, so the shelter has never been needed for its original purpose. The shelter was set up to store and distribute food, blankets and supplies to citizens in the event of a bombing raid. It was also set up as a communications centre with a battery room, should Adelaide’s main electricity supply fail.
The Glenelg Air Raid Shelter became an exhibition space in 1995 when it was returned to the council as part of the Australia Remembers celebrations. Over the years the exhibitions have been upgraded to tell the stories of the local involvement in various wars, home or abroad.
Staffed by volunteers, the Shelter is open to the public from 1:00pm to 4:00pm on the third Sunday of every month and also on Anzac Day. This Sunday 19 April, the Glenelg Air Raid Shelter will feature the History SA travelling exhibition, Bravest of the Brave. The exhibition tells the story of eight South Australian men who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War.
Anyone considering visiting the Glenelg Air Raid shelter is advised that access is via a steep flight of stairs and is not suitable for the mobility impaired.