War Damage to Shelters in Poplar

While researching the article, The Tragedy at Bullivant’s Wharf, I made use of some papers I had received from The National Archives: “Poplar Met Boro – War Damage to Shelters (POP/30)”. The papers describe the examination of the damage to a number of shelters (with an eye to improving shelter design), the cost of their repairs, and the accompanying correspondence between the council and central government bodies.

Cover sheet

Unfortunately, the papers didn’t contain that much information about the shelter at Bullivant’s Wharf, and they have been stored in a box since I wrote the article in January 2014. While having a bit of a clear-out last weekend, I decided not to simply throw the papers out, but to scan and share them here. A bit off the beaten track – i.e. not particularly about the Island – but still interesting for some, I hope.

The papers describe the damage to a few shelters by bombing Poplar, Bow and Stepney. The Poplar shelters in question, excluding Bullivant’s Wharf, were at various locations in the borough, but the papers gave particular attention to the shelters at:

  • Cording Street
  • Quixley Street
  • Latham Street
  • Broomfield Street

Cording Street

Cording Street (long) before and after the war, and recently:

1890, 1950 and 2015

Quixley Street

1890, 1950 and 2015

Latham Street

1890, 1950 and 2015

Damage to Latham Street shelters.

Damage to Latham Street shelters.

Damage to Latham Street shelters.

Damage to Latham Street shelters.

Damage to Latham Street shelters.

Broomfield Street

The Co-Operative warehouse was on the corner of Sharman Street and Broomfield, location of the RNLI store yard in the 1890 map:

1890, 1950 and 2015

Co-Operative Warehouse in Broomfield Street

As you would expect, the council set about the business of repairing shelters (where possible), while government bodies endeavoured to learn what they could from the damage. This was early in the war, and the government was conscious that it had much to learn about the impact of aerial bombing and the design of shelters.

The damage to the shelters at Latham Street received particular attention, as an answer was sought to the question of why only one of the two identical shelters was so severely damaged:

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