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Sheltering underground during the Blitz; 1940

Bill Brandt

Sheltering underground during the Blitz; 1940
4 0 c m
actual image size: 22cm x 28cm

Full image caption

This garage in Pimlico became a makeshift shelter during the Blitz, when many stores and businesses across London opened their cellars and basements to the public. Bill Brandt photographed these women and children as they prepared for the night.

Thousands of sandbags were used to strengthen shelters. Volunteers, including children, made them from sand and soil excavated around London. Hampstead Heath was a significant source.
Following the onset of the Blitz in September 1940, thousands of Londoners began to use Tube stations as impromptu air-raid shelters. Although the idea of Londoners sheltering in Tube stations has subsequently become symbolic of Home Front resilience, in fact only 5% of Londoners used the underground systems in this way. Indeed, large parts of South and East london, the areas most vulnerable to attack, were not part of the Tube network. The images in this series, for instance, show people using church crypts, shop basements and even railway arches for shelter, in addition to Tube stations.

Image Details

1940 BC - 1940 AD
Image Number

© Museum of London

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