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 Patron

    Thank you for the information most interesting
  3. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Capt.Sensible likes this.
  4. Alex1975uk

    Alex1975uk Well-Known Member

    Huge bomb crater on Rochester and Cobham golf club in Kent.
  5. Blitz Detective

    Blitz Detective New Member

    Lots in London as you guess even the Cemeteries didn't escape

    Attached Files:

    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 Patron

    Natural History Museum London.

    upload_2017-12-6_16-45-19.png upload_2017-12-6_16-45-44.png

    Attached Files:

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