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

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Palmers Green to New Southgate WWII Heritage Trail

As part of the Enfield at War Project we have been producing war walks for Edmonton, Enfield and Southgate. The Enfield Town First World War Heritage Trail is already available and now the next one has just come back from the printer.  The Palmers Green to New Southgate WWII Heritage Trail is an easy walk that takes between 1½ and 2½ hours.  It starts at Princes Avenue  the site of the highest number of deaths in a single incident in World War Two and takes you through Palmers Green to Broomfield Park,  Waterfall Road, Arnos Park, Bowes road ending up at the Grove Road Open Space in New Southgate.  The leaflets are available from Enfield Local Studies Library & Archive, First Floor Thomas Hardy House, 39 London Road, EN2 6DS and will be distributed to all Enfield libraries. The map can also be downloaded from the Enfield Council website: http://www.enfield.gov.uk/info/1062/local_studies/3813/second_world_war_palmers_green_heritage_walk . WWII walks for Enfield and Edmonton will be available soon.

Also on the Enfield at War website are articles from local newspapers published during the First World War: http://www.enfield.gov.uk/info/200046/libraries/3165/historic_newspaper_reports_from_world_war_one_1914_-_1918 . They are a mixture of the serious and the silly reflecting the attitudes and opinions of people at the time.

Post War Housing Shortage

The bombing during the Second World War created an acute shortage of housing. Some people were so desperate they squatted in empty houses. The local councils of Edmonton, Enfield and Southgate discussed various solutions to the problems.

‘Prefabs’ were erected around the area as a temporary solution.  Many of these lasted a lot longer than the expected 10 years. In Edmonton 34 ‘Portal’ type prefabs were built on part of the King George’s Playing Fields facing Delhi Road. The ‘Portal’ prefab had indoor bathrooms and toilets. Some prefabs had toilets in a separate shared block and no bathrooms.

All three councils embarked on extensive permanent house building programmes.  The first new permanent post war houses were built in Southgate in Barrowell Green (opened July 1946),

in Enfield in Addison Road (opened in October 1946)

and in Edmonton in Cuckoo Hall Lane (1948).

People were also encouraged to move out to the new towns being built to the north of London in Harlow and Stevenage. In 1948 there was an exhibition in Edmonton Town Hall about Harlow New Town to encourage people to move there.  The publicity promised ‘New Towns for Old’. According to the council Edmonton had a housing waiting list of over 5000 and a shortage of land available for development.  The solution was to move to Harlow which would be a’ new town complete in itself’ with no need to commute into London as there would be plenty of jobs in the town.

The Cost of war

At the outbreak of the Second World War there were plans to evacuate children from Edmonton to safer areas but it wasn’t considered necessary for the children of Enfield and Southgate as these areas were deemed to be ‘safe’. Later in the war it was agreed that children to the east of the Southbury Loop railway line would be eligible for evacuation.

Although much of the present day Borough of Enfield was considered a reasonably safe area there was considerable bomb damage. Even ‘minor bombing’ as described by the ARP Log Book could result in broken windows and injuries from flying glass.

According to the commonwealth War graves Commission there were 389 people killed in the borough. The breakdown for the three areas is:

Edmonton: 162 fatalities, 432 seriously injured, 609 slightly injured

Enfield: 109 fatalities, 271 seriously injured, 419 slightly injured

Southgate 118 fatalities, 267 seriously injured. The number slightly injured isn’t known
As well as the deaths and injuries there was extensive damage to property. This was compounded by the shortage of supplies with which to carry out repairs. Many bomb sites remained untouched for years after the war ended. The ‘Bombie’ in Grove Road New Southgate was one such site that was only redeveloped in 2014 being turned into to a park.

In total 433 houses were destroyed in Edmonton, 347 in Enfield and 256 in Southgate.

EPSON scanner imageThe image on the right shows the aftermath of bombing during the Second World War somewhere in the present day Borough of Enfield. Unfortunately there is nothing on the photos to say exactly where.  It shows men climbing over the wreckage, There doesn’t seem to be any equipment other than their bare hands. Does anyone know where this is? Any ideas would be appreciated.

Bomb Damage during Second World War

Since we acquired new scanners staff and volunteers at Enfield Local Studies Archive have been digitising old negatives. Some of them we had  already taken prints from but others haven’t been seen since they were taken. Thanks to advances in technology the quality of the images we are creating is much higher than previously.  The most recent photos scanned from the old negatives show the terrible devastation of the bombing during the Second World War. Even those incidents described as ‘minor bombing’ in the ARP log books such as the one in Connop Road on 21st Match 1944 caused a huge crater and destroyed houses as well as causing injury to residents.

On 14th April 1944 bombs fell on Aldermans Hill and Broomfield Avenue. 40 houses and 25 shops with flats above were damaged. 3 people were killed and 1 seriously injured.

The Mapleton Road bomb was a V2 (described in the ARP reports as a ‘long range rocket’. It caused extensive damage to electricity and phone cables. People were trapped in the wreckage of their houses. Search dogs had to be deployed.

The last V2 to fall in the area landed on the sewage farm in Montague Road, Edmonton. One person was killed. Eleven days later the war in Europe was over.

Air Raid Shelters

During the First World War local authorities were unprepared for air raids on civilian targets. Enfield Urban District Council did not provide air raid shelters instead advising people to stay in their homes. Southgate set aside parts of Bowes Road and Winchmore Hill schools as shelters. Edmonton allowed people to shelter in the Town Hall and later in the railway arches on Bridge Road. Some people constructed their own shelters in their back gardens.

With the advent of the Second World War local authorities were much more aware of the danger to the civilian population from air raids.  Preparations began at the time of the Munich Crisis in 1938. Trenches were dug for people caught in the open to shelter in.

LIBRARY GREEN 1939
Digging trenches on the Library Green Enfield 1939
Oakwood School shelters
Oakwood School shelters

People used many existing structures as shelters: the Underground, caves, basements and railway arches. Companies were legally required to provide shelters for their staff. In January 1939 a programme of shelter building began. The open trenches dug at the time of the Munich Crisis were lined and covered over with concrete or steel. The standard varied greatly. Some were dirty, smelly and prone to flooding. One of the better ones was beneath the car park of the Regal cinema in Edmonton.

Surface shelter Forty Hall
Surface shelter Forty Hall

For private shelters there were two main types. The Anderson shelter was like a miniature Nissen hut made of corrugated steel and sunk three feet in to the ground in the back garden and covered in earth. Two and a quarter million Anderson shelters were provided by the government before the blitz. They were free to people earning less than £350 a year. They were prone to flooding and cramped but could withstand anything but a direct hit. By October 1939 Enfield had delivered 4719 Anderson Shelters to local residents.

Anderson shelter
Anderson shelter

For those who didn’t have a garden there was the Morrison shelter. This was a steel framed box which could be used as a table during the day. Although this provided protection from falling rubble and flying glass during the Blitz it was no use against the V1s and V2s later in the war.

Instructions for assembling the Morrison shelter
Instructions for assembling the Morrison shelter

At the outbreak of War it was assumed that a gas attack was almost inevitable. Local authorities had to make provision for dealing with mass casualties. The plan below was intended for a church in Southgate. The centre of the plan shows provision for 66 bodies and there is a designated bay for dealing with contaminated bodies. Fortunately the expected gas attack never happened and although there were deaths not in the numbers anticipated.

Plan
Click on plan to see details

Bombing and censorship

The start of the V1 bombing campaign was severe blow to morale. At first the government censored any reference  to the ‘flying bombs’. On16th June Herbert Morrison announced that London was under attach by pilotless planes. The scale of the destruction was hushed up in order to maintain morale and prevent the Germans from knowing how effective the campaign was. There were strict rules about reporting bombing incidents. There was to be no mention of the name of the road until  three months after the incident. Photos of bombed streets had to show an intact building. All identifying signs had to be removed.

Queen Anne's Place showing censor's marks 1944
Queen Anne’s Place showing censor’s marks 1944

Chesterfield Road School was hit by V2 in June 1944. Below is the ARP report:

Date: 27.6.44                          Message Time: 12.25             Incident Time: 12.07

Particulars:     Damage ‘Fly’ Ordnance Road/Chesterfield Road.

Date: 27.6.44                          Message Time: 12.40             Incident Time: 12.07

Particulars:     Damage to school/Chesterfield Road.

Date: 27.6.44                          Message Time: 12.58             Incident Time: 12.07

Particulars:     Further details: – Part of school collapsed (some trapped).

Remarks:        Extensive damage at Bradley Road/Preston Road. Casualties: 3 serious.

 One of the fatalities was a teacher from the school. The Log Book from the school was found in the rubble after the air raid.

Chesterfield Road School
Chesterfield Road School

Chestefield Road School Log Book found in the rubble after the air raid

Carpenter Gardens was another place to be hit by a V2. ARP report:

Date: 7.7.44                            Message Time: 01.09,01.39,02.17Incident Time: 01.05, 01.09,                                           Particulars:     Report ‘Fly’ Highfield Road.

 Big incident. Fire Highfield Road/Carpenter Gardens. 765131. Details to                          follow.

 Many casualties-Some trapped. Mutual assistance in operation. School  damaged and food shops. Rescue 50 reports. Gas main on fire. Rescue operations still proceeding. Homeless accommodated in rest centre.

Remarks:        Killed: 8; Seriously Injured: 10; Slightly injured: 14; Missing: Unknown.

The report makes grim reading.

Wakefield Road, Southgate. Trying to repair the damage caused by a V2
Wakefield Road, Southgate. Trying to repair the damage caused by a V2