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Protecting the Transport Network during WWII

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During the height of bombing in London, over 18,000 tons of bombs were dropped. Infrastructure was the key target including the London Passenger Transport Board's (LPTB) stations, depots, factories, and railway tracks.

Identifiers Type Value Griffith House roof spotters. June 1941. LT000030/078 Pennyfare_021_00002

A huge effort was mounted by the organisation to protect these assets and to thereby keep London moving.

Staff undertaking tasks to protect the railway and administrative premises, including fitting floodgates, hooding rail signals, using a periscope in Chiswick Works and dispatch riders. November 1939. LT000030/018 Pennyfare_Nov_1939_00005

Squads of staff were trained to deal with high explosive, incendiary and gas bombs, fire-fighting, and decontamination of vehicles in a calm and business-like manner.

Article on ARP demonstrations at Cricklewood and Northfields. May 1939. LT000030/017_00045

Multiple ARP exercises were conducted at Chiswick, Northfields, and Fulwell to ensure staff were prepared.

Demonstration of Air Raid Protection effectiveness through practical exercises at Fulwell depot. June 1939. LT000030/017_00046

By the outbreak of war, electric floodgates on the Bakerloo line and at Waterloo on the Northern line had been completed. The Northern line between Strand and Kennington and 24 other stations had floodgates and watertight doors installed. In view of the danger of gas attack, modifications were made in the ventilating apparatus of the tubes, to lessen the risk of gas being drawn into the system.

Appeal for staff to volunteer for Air Raid Precaution duties at garages, depots and stations. May 1939. LT000030/017_00046

Inevitably, hits and resultant damage did occur. The LPTB's head office at 55 Broadway suffered on more than one occasion.

55 Broadway. 1929. LT000605/005

From a report dated 18th October 1940: “The bomb hit the building on a balcony on the ninth floor where it exploded doing considerable damage to the fourth, fifth and sixth floors; parts of the external walls of the fifth floor were completely blown out.”

Letter to the Minister of Transport, seeking permission for the rebuilding of part of 55 Broadway after it had been hit by a bomb. 18 October 1940. LT000495/004

Air-raid precaution demonstrations at Reigate and Windsor garages and Golders Green depot. July 1939. LT000030/017_00071

On 27th December 1940, 2 H.E. and 15 incendiary bombs fell on a tram depot. Whilst bombs were still falling Labourer Ernest Fox climbed onto the roof of the garage and other buildings and made an inspection of the full 300 foot length.

Commendation for Ernest Fox. December 1940. LT000030/078 Pennyfare_022_00003

On the night of 10th May 1941, 300 bombers were over London. Bombs scored direct hits on the LPTB tube lines at 20 different places. Tunnels were pierced at 4 points and tracks blocked at 9. Tram tracks were damaged on 14 roads and 21 roads were closed.

Air Raid Protection exercises at Chiswick Works. August 1939. LT000030/017_00082

Trolleybus wire was brought down at 18 places, tramway conduits were damaged at 13 points. 3 bus garages were damaged, 2 seriously. Services still ran, with some diversions and modifications, the next day.

Griffith House Roof Spotters Mrs Vance and Mrs Clements scan the sky for aerial threats. June 1941. LT000030/078 Pennyfare_021_00002

In all, 249 flying bombs and 75 rockets fell on LPTB properties or so near as to damage them in 1944-1945 alone.

Report of memorial service for ten staff, killed at Elmers End garage by a flying bomb. October 1944. LT000030/078 Pennyfare_062_00003

Yet to the LPTB and its staff protecting the network was simply part of "their war job."

Description of Air Raid Protection arrangements for the Griffith House block of offices. August 1941. LT000030/078 Pennyfare_023_00002

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