Open Day at the Local Studies Archive

On Monday 21st September the Archive will be holding an Open Day. This is the second open day held as part of the Enfield at War Project. The first one back in January was a great success and we hope this one will be too.  We will have on display the WW1 books of remembrance and you will be able to see our new interactive kiosks in action.

The interactive kiosks will have pictures and test illustrating what was happening in The Borough of Enfield during both World Wars. On them you will also be able to listen to the reminiscences people who lived in Enfield during World War Two and watch a filmed retelling of the shooting down of the Cuffley airship in 1916

As part of the project we have been producing war related walks around the Borough of Enfield. The latest one has just been published. This is for Edmonton in the Second World War. You will be able to pick up one of these and the others at the open day. There will be one more walk to come for the Enfield area which is due soon.

We would also like to hear from anyone who has personal memories of the Second World War as we are collecting oral histories for the project

Wartime Buildings

At the time of the Munich Crisis when war seemed inevitable a programme of trench building began throughout the borough. From 1939, as part of the Civil Defence preparations, the local authorities of Edmonton, Enfield and Southgate began roofing over the trenches and building many structures for wartime use.There were trenches on the Library Green in Enfield and in Pymmes Park in Edmonton. There were Auxiliary Fire Service Stations at Pymmes House and Broomfield House.

LIBRARY GREEN 1939
Digging trenches on the Library Green in Enfield Town
Broomfield House in use as an ARP post
Broomfield House in use as an ARP post
Gun emplacement Slades Hill
Gun emplacement Slades Hill

There was a gun emplacement on fields north of Slades Hill and a searchlight in Pymmes Park. Although some Wardens’ Posts and First Aid Centres were housed in existing buildings such as Broomfield House and under the Methodist Church in Enfield Town many were purpose built.  Tank traps were built on railways.

Pill Box at Government Row
Pill Box at Government Row

Air Raid shelters were built across the three authorities including a shelter at Weir Hall which still survives. The entrance is now covered by bushes and inaccessible to the public.

Surface Air Raid Shelter at Forty Hill
Surface Air Raid Shelter at Forty Hill

The majority of these structures were demolished at the end of the war.

Mr Miller demolishing his Anderson shelter
Mr Miller demolishing his Anderson shelter

Some survived for many years after. Some still exist.

We want to try and identify any that are left. If you know of the remains of a public air raid shelter, wardens’ post, pill box or any other Second World War structure please let us know.

Phone: 0208 379 2724

Email: local.history@enfield.gov.uk

Or in person at Local Studies Archive and Library, First Floor, Thomas Hardy House, 39 London Road, EN2 6DS. We are open 9.30 to 5pm Monday to Friday.

Plan for public air raid shelter in Compton Road
Plan for public air raid shelter in Compton Road

Princes Dance Hall Bomb

On the evening of 15th March 1941 a bomb exploded in Tottenhall Road and a second bomb fell on the Princes Dance Hall in Green Lanes. There were 127 people in the Hall. Casualties were laid out in rows on the pavement. There were several casualties but only two people were killed. Many more people (41) were killed when a passing bus was caught in the blast. The ARP report for the incident read as follows:

Date: 15.3.41                          Message Time: 21.05                         Incident Time: 20.45

Particulars:     Damage by High Explosives South Side of junction Green Lanes and Princes                  Avenue. Shops demolished and extensive damage by blast.

Remarks:        LPTB overhead cables damaged. Considerable casualties.

 Date: 15.3.41                          Message Time: 23.11,03.10               Incident Time: 20.50

Particulars:     Damage. High Explosives. Tottenhall Road, one house demolished and several               damaged.

Remarks:        3 Casualties, 1 trapped, 1 killed, 3 seriously wounded.

 Date: 16.3.41                          Message Time: 03.07                         Incident Time: 20.50

Particulars:     Re: 22.54, Bombs fell as follows: In Green Lanes between Tottenhall Road          and Princes Avenue, Green Lanes, Junction Green Lanes/ Sidney Avenue and            62/68 Green Lanes. Several shops demolished and several destroyed.

Remarks:        A motorbus was destroyed. Casualties: Killed 43; Seriously Wounded 40;                          Slightly Wounded 26. Final figures from situation report M40 20.3.41                                 (G.Eng).

Date: 16.3.41                          Message Time: 17.28 SR                   Incident Time: –

Particulars:     Re: Incident 15.3.41.

                        14  shops properties demolished.

                        14  shops properties to be demolished.

                        35  shops properties damaged.

                        150 shops properties affected by blast.

                        Gas main also damaged, repaired 17.07.

                        SR 1.4.41

                        Trolley Bus service Green Lane restored.

                        Green Lanes fully open to traffic.

Date: 16.3.41                          Message Time: 17.35,17.47               Incident Time: –

Particulars:     60-68 Green Lanes. Small explosion has occurred causing a small fire. Due to  box of fireworks in shop under Princes Dance Hall.

Remarks:        Fire under control.

The photos below show some of the resulting devastation.

 N3415 Princes Dance Hall ect - Bowes Road 10-04-1941N3417 Bowes Road - Princes Dance Hall etc. 10-04-1941N3416 Princes Dance Hall Etc - Bowes Road 10-04-1941N3423 Bomb Damage - Princes Hall 10-04-1941

London Road Bomb 1940

On the night of the 15th -16th November 1940  high explosive and incendiary bombs as well as seven parachute mines fell on Enfield. One of the mines fell in London Road near the church of Our Lady and St George. The church was damaged beyond repair. The convent opposite was wrecked but the nuns escaped with minor injuries. Houses in London Road were badly damaged and some had to be demolished. Shop windows in the Town were shattered and there were injuries from flying glass.

The entry in the ARP Logbook reads:

15.11.40   Message Time:2326      Incident Time 22.00

Particulars: High Explosives at London Road. Cecil Road, Sydney Road, Peartree Road, Lyndhurst Gardens. Many houses demolished.

Remarks: Numerous casualties. Some killed.

The pictures below show the aftermath of the bomb.

00430 London Road 00431 London Road 00433 London Road 00434 London Road