Tuesday, March 09, 2021

The Bombing of London

I live in London's East End, in a mainly residential area which was first developed in the Victorian age. Housing in this area of London emerged during the 19th Century as a result of the new railway lines and to provide housing for the huge numbers of workers needed to run London's busy docks.  

The housing and municipal buildings in my neighborhood are still mainly Victorian. The streets are dominated by Victorian terraces, Victorian school buildings and Victorian pubs. However not every building is Victorian in my neighborhood. On every street you will find the odd Twentieth Century house and when you look up you can normally see at least a couple of mid-Twentieth Century tower blocks peeping out on the skyline.

Invariably these Twentieth Century buildings mark the locations where German bombs landed during World War II. Nearly every single post-war building in this area of the East End is built on land which was cleared as a result of a German bomb.  

You can get a better idea of where German bombs fell in London on Layers of London's Bomb Damage Map. On this map buildings are colored to show the extent of any bomb damage. Buildings colored black on the map were totally destroyed by a bomb. Dark red buildings were 'Seriously Damaged' (and will in nearly all cases have now been demolished). Buildings colored green were cleared (presumably as a result of bomb damage). 

The Bomb Damage Map shown on Layers of London is actually a composite of a number of maps made by the London County Council. These 110 hand colored Bomb Damage Maps now provide an important record of the impact of the Second World War on the built environment of London.

You can also view the damage caused to London by bombs dropped during WWII on the amazing Bomb Sight interactive map. Bomb Sight shows the location of bombs that landed during the war using data taken from a number of different sources. Chief among these sources are the maps created during the Bomb Census Survey 1940 to 1945, which was organized by the Ministry of Home Security. 

As you can see from the screenshot above the map shows the locations of thousands of bombs that landed on London during World War II. However the screenshot above only shows a fraction of the bombs dropped on London. This is because Bomb Sight only shows bombs which were dropped during the Blitz (from September 7th 1940 to Spring 1941).

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