Dismantling of the last bunks provided for use during wartime air raids, South Wimbledon Underground Station

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Date Photo Taken 1st January 0001
Area Merton
Picture Reference MerMor_​World_​War_​5-1
Original Format Photo
Notes / History Dr Wallace Johns, Medical Officer of Health, and Mr H. A. Abrams, Chief Warden, watch as the last bunks are dismantled in South Wimbledon Underground Station.

In the early stages of World War Two various types of public shelter were built. Often made of reinforced concrete and sunk, or partially sunk, into the ground they saved many lives. However, they could still be as vulnerable as houses to direct hits. The underground stations, formed of concrete arches buried completely below ground level, with entrances screened by concrete walls, provided a level of protection not afforded by the purpose built shelters. At first the use of underground stations for shelter was prohibited, but as enemy attacks on London increased it became apparent that this rule was impossible to enforce. The authorities relented and in many cases the trek to the underground stations during air raids became an accepted ritual.

Some stations – such as South Wimbledon – put up bunk beds but many people slept on the platforms. The WRVS provided tea and snacks and as many as 1400 people took refuge in South Wimbledon station during the raids.

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