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Activity Clapham Common, Wandsworth
Giving Shelter

In the second world war, London was increasingly in danger from air raids and the threat of invasion. People who lived in the area needed safe places to hide when bombs were falling, and to use as fortifications in the case of attack.

Clapham Common, along with many other parks and gardens, became the site of public Air Raid Shelters in which people who lived locally, or who were caught out away from home during an Air Raid, could shelter from the bombs.

 
 

The pictures below show Air Raid trenches being constructed on Clapham Common in World War II. Click on each one to see a larger version.

 
 
Air Raid trenches on Clapham Common, click to see detail Air Raid trenches on Clapham Common, click to see detail
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Air Raid trenches on Clapham Common, click to see detail   Air Raid trenches on Clapham Common, click to see detail
See full enlargement (30K)
 
See full enlargement (29K)
 
 

How would it feel?

Imagine how it must have felt to be caught out in an Air Raid, hiding in a crowded trench with strangers all around you, perhaps for hours on end, with the threat of bombs falling.

If you knew that you had to go to the Air Raid shelter and spend several hours there, what would you take with you? Make a list.

What would you have taken if you were alive in 1940? Remember, you can't take anything like MP3 players, X-boxes or Gameboys because they hadn't been invented! In 1940, even radios needed to be plugged in to the electricity supply, and there would have been no electricity in the trenches.

Describe how you would feel after having spent a night in the Air Raid shelter in 1940. Do you know anybody who may have been alive at this time? Ask them what they remember.

 
 

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