London’s Deep Level Air Raid Shelters

When the Second World broke out in Europe, and London became the prime bombing target, people began to pour into the platforms of the London Underground —the city’s subway system— every night to escape the nightly bombings of the 1940 London Blitz. As these underground sanctuaries became increasingly crowded, the British government decided to construct proper air raid shelters far below the ground. The idea was to build ten shelters and place them slightly below and near existing subway stations with the intention that these newly built tunnels will be eventually absorbed into the Underground once the war was over.

 

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The Stockwell deep level shelter entrance in London, now decorated as a war memorial. 

 

Work on the shelters began in November 1940. Each shelter consisted of a pair of parallel tunnels 16 feet 6 inches in diameter and 1,200 feet (370 m) long. Each tunnel was subdivided into two decks, fully equipped with bunks, medical posts, kitchens and sanitation. Above ground, each shelter’s shafts were protected by specially constructed ‘pill box’ buildings to prevent any bombs that directly hit the location from going underground. Each pill box housed lift machinery and provided the cover for spiral staircases down to the shelter’s tunnels.

Originally ten shelters were planned, but only eight got built —one each at Belsize Park, Camden Town, Goodge Street, Chancery Lane, Stockwell, Clapham North, Clapham Common, and Clapham South tube stations. The final capacity of each shelter was also reduced to 8,000 from the planned 10,000.

The shelters were ready by 1942, but when the time came to open them to the public, the government got surprisingly cold feet. The worst of the bombings were already over, they argued, and the cost of maintaining the shelters would be too high once opened. Despite mounting pressure from the public, the authorities decided that the shelters would not be opened until the bombing intensified.

 

Clapham South Deep-level shelter

The arrival of the flying bombs, the V1 and the V2, finally moved the government to open the shelters to the public. Five of the shelters were opened and the remaining three continued to be used for various government use such as holding troops. Access to the shelters was controlled by tickets, but the demand was not high. The highest recorded nightly population was 12,297 on July 24, 1944, about one third of total capacity. After the scare of the flying bombs were over, the shelters closed once again and people returned back to the tube stations.

The shelters were used for their original purpose for less than a year. After the war, some of the shelters became temporary accommodation for the army in transit or were used as storage facilities. The Clapham South shelter used to house post-war immigrants from the West Indies. In 1951, it became the Festival Hotel providing cheap stay for visitors to the Festival of Britain. The Clapham North shelter is now a hydroponic farm and the rest are owned by Transport for London, and are still used for archival storage. The Clapham South shelter is now open for pre-booked tours arranged by the London Transport Museum.

 

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A busy night at Clapham South in July 1944, many of the original shelter signs are still in place today.

 

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Wherever possible families were kept together in the shelter often utilizing the cross bunks where two pairs faced each other. Shelter residents are seen hear making up their bunks on the upper floor.

 

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These stairs led to a tunnel connecting to Clapham South Tube station. It was built so that London Underground could connect the shelters and use them as part of an “express Northern Line” after the war. This never happened.

 

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Control room of Clapham South deep level shelter.

 

Breeze Blocks

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Clapham Common deep level shelter now houses an underground farm.

 

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Entrance to the  Clapham Common deep level shelter.

The Only Man to Be Buried on the Moon

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Eugene Shoemaker (Source: Atlas Obscura)

Humanity has seen only a handful of people that actually had the honor to step on earth’s natural satellite, but at present, there is only one person who is “buried” on an astronomical body orbiting Earth. The name of the soul that now rests on the Moon is Eugene Shoemaker, an astrogeologist who had worked with NASA since the 1960s and became famous when a comet that crashed on Jupiter in 1994 received his name (Shoemaker-Levy Comet).

The reason this comet became so famous is that this was the first time in human history that we had the chance to witness a planetary collision. This event was mainly reported by Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy, hence the two monikers within the comet’s name.

A long-lived passion

As an astrogeologist, he had always been fascinated by space and the idea of humans colonizing the earth’s natural satellite. Eugene was also schooled in the world of geology and this is where he used both of high interests to research the Moon and prepare astronauts for the type of soil/rock they would land on. As much as he loved the idea of traveling to the Moon he always knew that he may not be able to make it as he was the brain and not the muscle of NASA.

He was also very famous in the United States not only due to his intensive studies of craters around the state but also for founding the Program for archeological studies within the US in the 1960s. All of his knowledge was a very valuable element in the success of the Apollo missions and other NASA projects. In fact, the origins of what’s now known as Meteor Crater in Arizona had been uncertain before his Ph.D. dissertation settled the matter. This was the same crater that most astronauts that took part in the Apollo missions were trained in as it was quite similar to the terrain on the Moon.

The better the astronauts understood the terrain they were about to face the better they could get prepared for what was ahead. Getting to the Moon was only half of the mission. As mentioned before, Eugene’s long dream since he first approached astronomy was to go to the Moon to see our beautiful world from a different perspective. However, his focus was on his own work, he knew he was more valuable as an astronomist and geologist than as an astronaut.

Reaching his final destination

Sadly, his life was cut short due to a car accident that took place on the 18th of July 1997. However, this wasn’t going to be Eugene’s final journey. A close work colleague had the idea to actually send his corpse to the Moon as she knew this was his life-long dream. NASA thought that this was a very good idea to show their appreciation for his work over the years. His body was cremated as transporting his ashes would have been much easier than transporting his corpse.

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Eugene Shoemaker and his team also led geology field trips for astronauts-in-training in 1967. (Source: Science Source)

His ashes were loaded on the Lunar Prospector, a rocket which launched on the 6th of January 1998 with the goal of reaching the South pole of the Moon. Eugene Shoemaker’s ashes were inside a special polycarbonate capsule produced by a company called Celestis that was actually specializing in sending dead people to space but never onto the Moon. The outside of the capsule was marked with his name, his date of birth, and date of death as well as a picture of him training astronauts in a geology field trip (the same picture you can see above).

The Luna prospector reached the moon on the 31st of July 1999. On the same day, they launched the capsule containing Shoemaker’s ashes which crashed onto the moon, thus “burying” Eugene Shoemaker in the place he had always wanted to reach.

From: medium.com

The Maunsell Sea Forts

The Maunsell Sea Forts were small fortified towers built in the Thames and Mersey estuaries during the Second World War to help defend the United Kingdom. They were named after their designer, Guy Maunsell. The forts were decommissioned in the late 1950s and later used for other activities. One became the Principality of Sealand; boats visit the remaining forts occasionally, and a consortium called Project Redsands is planning to conserve the fort situated at Redsand.

Maunsell sea forts, built in the Thames estuary and operated by the Royal Navy, were to deter and report German air raids following the Thames as a landmark, and attempts to lay mines by aircraft in this important shipping channel.

There were four naval forts:

  • Rough Sands (HM Fort Roughs) (U1)
  • Sunk Head (U2)
  • Tongue Sands (U3)
  • Knock John (U4)

 

The design was a concrete construction; a pontoon barge on which stood two cylindrical towers on top of which was the gun platform mounting two 3.75-inch guns and two 40 mm Bofors guns. They were laid down in dry dock and assembled as complete units. They were then fitted out — the crews going on board at the same time for familiarisation — before being towed out and sunk onto their sand bank positions in 1942.

The naval fort design was the latest of several that Maunsell had devised in response to Admiralty inquiries. Early ideas had considered forts in the English Channel able to take on enemy vessels.

Knock John sea fort

Amazing historical photos

(COLORIZED) Lt. Custer and Union Troops (1862)

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Bombs dropped on Kobe, Japan (1945)

 

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Hitler looking at the Gustav Railway gun (1942)

 

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JFK and LBJ during the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)

 

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Joseph and Magda Goebbels on their wedding day. Best man- Adolf Hitler (1931)

 

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Ruby Bridges, first African-American to attend a white elementary school in the South (Nov. 14th, 1960)

 

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San Francisco (1958)

 

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The dog of General George S. Patton on the day of his death (1945)

 

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The SAS storming the Iranian Embassy to free hostages taken by terrorists. London. 1980

 

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Thich Quang Duc Vietnam (1963) Buddhist anti-government protest

 

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Three Archers, Japan (ca. 1870-1880)

 

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Last photo taken of the Titanic (1912)

 

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Hitler was ‘exorcised’ by Pope Pius XII, new book reveals

ITALIAN journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona has a new book out that reveals that Eugenio Pacelli who became Pope Pius XII – regarded by many as an anti-Semitic Nazi sympathizer – actually performed exorcisms ‘from a distance’ on Adolf Hitler.