Nelson Gardens, Merton: Children playing in former air raid shelters

Nelson Gardens, Merton: Children playing in former air raid shelters

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Area Merton
Picture Reference Wim_​10_​8-1
Original Format Photo
Notes / History These WW2 air-raid shelters in Nelson Gardens were built to protect members of the public who were on the streets at the time of an enemy attack. They were put up as part of a big government building programme that began as early as March 1940. Intended to accommodate up to 50 people, they ‘were formed of concrete arches or shells buried partly or completely below ground level, with an entrance which was approached by steps and screened by a concrete or brick blast wall’ (‘Safe as Houses’ by Norman Plastow).

On 16th August, 1940, Mitcham experienced the first sustained attack of the Blitz. One bomb fell in Nelson Gardens Public Park itself, killing Mr Eaton, a St. John’s Ambulance man, outside the public shelter and damaging the windows and stonework of St. John’s church (see Merton Historical Society Bulletin No 166 June 2008). Another fell on nearby High Path, killing two ARP wardens; two more fell on nearby Milner Road, one on Morden Road a few yards south of Milner road, three more on or near Pincott Road and three to the south and East of Rodney Place.

Nelson Gardens opened in 1906, created to honour the first centenary of Admiral Lord Nelson's death in 1805. Nelson had lived at Merton Place from 1801-1805, which had extensive estate lands within which was the plot that is now Nelson Gardens.

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