UK Bomb Damage. (Still visible now)

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by raf, Jul 12, 2006.

  1. Emaycee

    Emaycee New Member

    This post is from a few years ago, but lest anyone come across it and plan a journey to Blackheath under considerable misapprehension, there are a number of fallacies here that need to be exploded, if you’ll pardon the pun. To summarise, Blackheath is not named after the Black Death, it is not a mass burial site for plague victims (so the heath not being built upon has nothing to do with this) – and most crucially to the topic of this thread, the ‘cratered’ area near the bandstand is most definitely not bomb cratering – it is the Vanbrugh Pits, the result of mining. Details follow for those interested.

    Firstly, it is an urban myth that Blackheath was a mass burial site for plague victims - it is actually so named because of the dark coloured bracken that predominated here, with its Anglo-Saxon name Blachehedfeld (“dark coloured heathland”) first recorded in the mid 12th century.

    While it is likely that some bodies were arbitrarily disposed of on the heath during the various plague outbreaks – as they were in open spaces all across London due to the overwhelming number of dead to contend with – it did not become a site for mass burials and in fact would have been a poor place to do so, with a substantial gravel layer just beneath the surface. It was this very attribute that led to Blackheath during the 18th and 19th centuries being mined heavily for gravel, sand and chalk.

    So very far from being sacrosanct in terms of ground disturbance, the entire area was an excavation site of industrial scale long after the era of the plague, with deep craters and ravines forming across the heath and several enormous windmills being built to support these activities. Even after cessation of large scale mining, the terrain remained deeply scarred until the early 20th century – hence there actually being B&W photographs to complement the preceding line drawings and paintings of the heath in both its mined and pre-mined state. The return of casting heaps to the pits and the easing of pit edges had rendered the open casts less precipitous but clearly could not compensate for the volume of material that had been extracted and transported away from the area.

    The more dramatic of these casts - such as the deep ravine that ran from Whitefields Mount (itself of some historic interest) to the Hare & Billet pond - were infilled between 1900 and 1910, reportedly using diggings from sewer construction but likely also from general building and excavation work around South London.

    Rubble from bombed buildings is said to have been added during and after the second world war such that by the 1950s the main expanse of the heath was returned to gentle undulation with two notable exceptions – the Eliot Pits in the southwest corner of the heath, and the aforementioned Vanbrugh Pits in the north near Greenwich park. They remain as preserved microcosms of the effect mining had upon the terrain and within which largely unkept growth now prevails, principally gorse. There is a further unfilled pit in existence in which development actually did take place, namely the Victorian terraced houses of Blackheath Vale, with the All Saints primary school nestling against a 30 foot high chalk mine facing.

    The characteristically treeless topography of Blackheath did not arise however from its decimation by mining – it was previously thus because the poor acidic soil was conducive to the growth of little but the eponymous bracken. With the arrival of landscaping and horticultural techniques that would render tree growth possible on the heath, its barren character was overtly preserved by ordinance in the late nineteenth century – establishing its status not as a “common” as generally thought but as a manorial wasteland, and forbidding both construction and the planting of trees thereon.

    While the ever useful shows that a few bombs did fall reasonably close to the Vanbrugh Pits during The Blitz, visitors to the area should not labour under the illusion that this deep and irregular ravine (or its counterpart Eliot Pits) was in any way formed by bombing – it is indisputably the legacy of mining and it was this way for well over a century before the Luftwaffe darkened the skies overhead.
    Capt.Sensible and Rich Payne like this.
  2. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Thank you for the information most interesting
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

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  4. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Huge bomb crater on Rochester and Cobham golf club in Kent.
  5. Lots in London as you guess even the Cemeteries didn't escape

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    von Poop likes this.
  6. Oldleg

    Oldleg Well-Known Member

    Nicola, I amm actually from Ealing and as a child I used to play in a form of adventure playground which used to be just behind where Safeways used to be before the Ealing Broadway shopping centre was built. This I believe was an old bombsite.
  7. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Natural History Museum London.

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    Guy Hudson likes this.
  8. Albie

    Albie New Member

    I'm new to this website [I only signed up today, looking for the SWS sign in Portsmouth!] when I found this thread. There's a book published in 2011 called 'London At War' by Alan Brooks that has photos from central London of ww1 and ww2 bomb damage [amongst many other things].
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Some smashed memorials rebuilt at Exeter cathedral.
    The work must have been carried out so painstakingly, when you see the extent of the original damage. That wooden screen was destroyed, & a member of staff told us locals came in to find as many parts as were possible to use in rebuilding.

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  10. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    British Museum

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  11. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    When I was young, I lived in Cranham, Upminster. (Between 1960-1972) We used to play in the Brickfields in Cranham. There was a wood bordering the railway. In the wood there were several holes (I think four) that we knew as the 'bomb craters'. They weren't too far apart. I probably played there between 1966-1969. Whether they were craters or not, I don't know, but as they were in the woods, I can't think of anything else that would have caused them.
  12. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    Rochford Police Station, Rochford, Essex was a short distance from Southend Airport. There were bullet holes in the back wall of the Police Station. Not too many people were aware of it and a builder who was doing repairs to the pointing, filled them in. He was made aware and the holes were cleaned out again.
    The building ceased to be a Police Station some years ago. I worked there on occasion. My father in law was resident in one of the Police houses situated on either side of the Station for several years. My wife was born there in 1967 and has that location as her place of birth on her birth certificate!
    The building has recently been sold for development. Hopefully it won't be demolished.
    hutt, SteveDee and CL1 like this.
  13. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    Christchurch, Greyfriars in Newgate Street London. Bombed 29th December 1940. I used to walk past the memorial garden when I worked in the City of London.
  14. Paul Bradford

    Paul Bradford Active Member

    Not bomb damage, but I was a BT Engineer in the City of London from the late 70's to 1987. When installing telephone lines or private circuits in buildings, the Main Distribution Frame was almost always in the basement. Many of these buildings were untouched for years below ground level. I remember going into the Banco Espanol en Londres on London Wall (I believe). I went down into the basement looking for the MDF and it was like stepping back in time. It was an ARP Warden Shelter and still had the signs on the walls and Red fire buckets full of sand.
    As a child I spent a long period in Harold Wood Hospital in 1967 following a road accident. The wards as I recall were off a corridor and in between the wards were the air raid shelters. Once I became mobile, there were a few of us that took to exploring when the nurses weren't looking. The shelters either had no doors or walls screening an opening. I can't recall now, but they were easy to access. They still had the beds and bedding inside.

    This site is great. I haven't thought about these things for years!
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
    von Poop likes this.
  15. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Tate Gallery London



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  16. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Cabinet Offices,Whitehall,London


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    ozzy16, Dave55, stolpi and 5 others like this.
  17. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    St Clement Danes,The Strand,London,

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  18. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Christchurch,Greyfriars church ,City of London upload_2019-10-29_18-7-44.png upload_2019-10-29_18-7-56.png upload_2019-10-29_18-8-8.png upload_2019-10-29_18-8-19.png upload_2019-10-29_18-8-28.png upload_2019-10-29_18-8-40.png upload_2019-10-29_18-8-51.png upload_2019-10-29_18-9-0.png


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    Tony56 and TriciaF like this.
  19. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    So how can we forget?
  20. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    Look smaller scale and you can find lots. Go and look at the outsides of some of the older London museums for example and you can see pockmarks in the stone from bomb splinters and other debris

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