Wednesday, October 07, 2015

An Underground Bunker at Goldsmiths in New Cross

During the Second World War, Goldsmiths College was evacuated to Nottingham. The buildings in New Cross were taken over for Civil Defence. There was a barrage balloon, and an Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Control Centre, with First Aid and Casualty Clearing Station. The swimming pool in the college was set aside as a potential mortuary. In the event an incendiary bomb attack in 1940 destroyed the swimming pool, which I believe was never reinstated, and  badly damaged much of the main building.

However, in the Upper Field, where the Stuart Hall Building now stands as well as tennis courts, an underground ARP Control Centre was built but never used. According to Dorothy Dymond's 'The Forge: a history of Goldsmiths' College 1905-1955' (London, Methuen, 1955):  'The Borough Council in conjunction with the Ministry of Health also carried out extensive excavations under the Upper Field for the purpose of a large ARP Control Centre. This elaborate underground structure suffered some damage from a bomb and was never actually brought into use. At the end of the war, after various possibilities of College utilization had been considered and rejected, the whole structure was buried, out of sight and out of mind'. Wonder if there's anything left of it?

From 'The Forge' (1955)

Goldsmiths Library after 1940 incendiary bomb attack

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