“One day we heard that a bomb had destroyed the home of a classmate, Derek Barnes. His mother, father and baby sister were killed. Our class clubbed together to buy him a Meccano set. To this day I can see him standing forlornly as he received his gift and said goodbye to us, presumably to start a new life with relatives”. John Gent, a retired London Transport worker, talking in 2010.
During the Blitz, Londoners took shelter into their own hands and went deep underground. The government had forbidden this. During a raid, people would simply buy a ticket and occupy the station. 60,000 people would gather underground. Eventually, the government had to bow to pressure.
This station is Swiss Cottage, London Borough of Camden. It was closed in 1940, so the chances are it was not in use at the time of the photograph. Records show that 41 ‘high explosive bombs’ were dropped in this area.
Sadly, the shelterers are unnamed.
This is the twelfth square of my London Pairs Patchwork. It is a patchwork of papers gleaned from the pavements (mostly) of the city in which I live. There are sixteen squares making up the whole piece. You can see it here.
All of my work is numbered. This piece is 795.
The picture was taken from ‘The London Bus And Tube Book’ by Nicola Baxter. Design Consultant, Jeremy Rewse-Davies. Editorial Assistant, Sharon Appleton. Photographer uncredited. Published by Hodder and Stoughton, 1994.
Bought by Bromley Libraries in 1994, and sold to me, in a rather knackered state, in 2010.
The patchwork is now in my shop.