Bomb damage maps of Blackheath

Blackheath Bomb Damage Map from London Metropolitan Archives taken by Flickr user Yersinia

This map shows a colour-coded key explaining the severity of bomb damage in London after the WW2 bombings.  They are from the London Metropolitan Archives, and were photographed by Flickr user Yersinia.  There is also a key to the wider maps showing all of London here.

However, it seems an alternative path of destruction is being carried out by the London Metropolitan Archives, as all of this information is going to be digitally archived, and placed online.  “What could possibly be wrong with that?”, you may ask…  Well, all of the original data collected by the City of London would have been paid for by the people of London through taxation.  And the archives are going to be placed online by a private company called The Generations Network Inc., based in Utah, who run  But don’t worry because, as the City of London site helpfully points out:

We will provide free access to view the indexes and images through on the computer terminals in our public rooms.

I’ve just tried to access the “shop”, and it seems that the privilege of viewing a birth certificate (for example) would cost me the rather spectacular sum of £20.  However, if I would like reprints on top of that, it will only cost me £10.  Bargain, I say.

Now, whilst I like the idea that Information screams to be free, I am painfully aware that bandwidth, servers, hosting, and archiving all costs money.  However, as mysociety has shown, there are much much better ways of achieving the same goals, without ripping off the people who funded the data collection in the first place.  The tide of euphoria around this idea in the US is quite astonishing at the moment, and this poster:

Code a Better Country

… should be required reading for whichever bureaucrat came up with the idea of selling our data off in £20 chunks.  For the geeks amongst you, this article  “Want to change the world?  Learn to Program” which was pointed out by O’Reilly (the blogger, not the builder in Fawlty Towers), is really good, and explains how was set-up in the US.

Further Reading:  Free Our Data.


Filed under blackheath

9 responses to “Bomb damage maps of Blackheath

  1. Paul

    I’m sure I saw a framed map showing wartime bomb damage on the stairs in Waterstones, Greenwich. It made me wonder if, perhaps, someone had published a book incorporating the map.

  2. Anonymous

    I knew the village had been walloped because Montpelier Vale, Blackheath Vale and Independent’s Road still show signs of rebuilding. Interesting that two churches were direct hits. But I didn’t realise the Heath had been hit by so many flying bombs.

    BTW, birth certificates can be ordered online from the GRO for £7 to £10 and Ancestry is available free at Lewisham libraries [don’t know about Greenwich].

  3. please never ever pay more than £7 for a birth certificate

    I am a TGN fan and use the census databases all the time
    but do not use their shop for that purpose


    Registration Services – Certificate Ordering Service: “The General Register Office holds a central copy of all registrations for England and Wales. Local Register Offices also hold records of events registered in their area.

    For recent events registered within the last 18 months, applications for certificates should be made to the Register Office in the district where the birth, death or marriage took place.”

  4. Hi, you might be interested to know that you can use Ancestry for free in all Lewisham libraries. The Library Service buys in an annual subscription on behalf of library users, and you can access it on any of our computers in our branches, including Blackheath Village Library.

  5. Bob Land

    The Blackheath Society were showing a few photos
    I think it was last year, one of them was of the bomb damage on Montpelier Row and Tranquil Vale.

    Maybe if a request was sent to the Blackheath Society, apparently they have thousands of photos
    in their archives, we might move them to show some more, or release them to this blog

    • Anonymous

      Hello Bob
      Sorry to open this thread again after such a long time.
      I’ve been trawling the web for references to the photo of bomb damage on Montpelier Row and Tranquil Vale which you mention above. I know there are copies in 2 of the estate agents in Blackheath Village (which they wouldn’t let me have copied) but when I enquired at the Blackheath Society, Mary Evans Picture Library and the Blackheath Books nobody knew anything about it or where to find a copy. Do you know anything else about this photo?
      Many thanks

      • Bob Land

        Hello Anonymous,
        I saw the photo on the Blackheath Society Website ages ago. It is on the internet, but a very bad copy.

        Type Blackheath bomb damage in Google search then click on photos , you should find it.

  6. Thought you might be interested to know that the LMA decided to get heavy to stop me sharing these maps. I got a mail from flickr including the following:

    “We have received a Notice of Infringement from Mayor and Commonality and Citizens of the City of London via the Yahoo! UK Copyright Team and have removed the 111 photos of the London County Council bomb damage maps created after the
    second world war showing where in London bomb damage occured during the second world war from your photostream.

    Subsequent NOIs filed against your account will result in further action that may include termination without warning.”

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