Tag Archives: WW2

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 ancestry.co.uk.  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 Ancestry.co.uk on the computer terminals in our public rooms.

I’ve just tried to access the ancestry.co.uk “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 Stimuluswatch.org was set-up in the US.

Further Reading:  Free Our Data.

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Memories of Blackheath 1944-1958

Blackheath All Saints Church by flickr user littlestar19

Below is an amazing recollection of Blackheath at the end of, and just after World War 2. Please click on the post to read the full piece.

It was written by Bob Land, who now lives in The Netherlands, but found this site, and (luckily for all of us) was willing to share his memories.  I think it’s great, and I urge you all to read it, especially to visualise the antics of the milk carts.  It makes picking up half a pint of semi-skimmed in Shepherd Foods seem incredibly dull in comparison.  Now, if we could only reinstate the bakery and the toy shop…

Recollections/memories of Blackheath 1944-1958

By Bob Land

Wartime Blackheath

I was born in 1939, so my recollection of the war years are very limited.

One night looking out of the front bedroom window I saw a doodle bug passing overhead, on its way towards London, with its typical spluttering sound and flames coming out of the rear exhaust.

One day, around about midday, we were at school (All Saint’s), and there was a huge explosion, all the windows at the rear of the school fell out of their frames, I am led to believe, that this was the result of the flying bomb, which had a direct hit on the Weslyan Church in Blackheath Grove, although it is doubtful, that this was the cause.

On another occasion, towards the end of the war, there had been extensive damage to a few shops in Tranquil Vale, and having taken my Grandmother’s broom, I helped the Fire Brigade sweep up the glass which was lying on the pavement from all the shattered shop windows. I can still recall the smell of charred timbers, iodine and broken plaster board.

We spent many, many nights in the air-raid shelter in the garden, during the Blitz and later on with the V1 and V2 rockets

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