Air raid shelter, Ravenor Park

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A piece of Greenford’s modern history lies unnoticed close to a playground. This concrete square probably caps a sealed ventilation shaft for a public air raid shelter. By the late 1930’s the British government was organising civil defence, including the construction of shelters for those without gardens to build their own or caught in the street. I could see six of these squares spread across sloping ground near Oldfield Lane South, as well as a group of small slabs which could indicate the entrance. After the war it was easier to seal these structures with concrete that remove them and many public spaces across the UK have bumpy areas that indicate their presence. Even so, most people are oblivious to these life saving shelters where Greenford residents must have spent many anxious hours waiting for sirens to give the all clear.

Images and text ©Albertina McNeill 2012. Please do not reproduce without permission. All rights reserved. Do not add any of these images to Pinterest or similar sites as this will be regarded as a violation of copyright.

This entry was published on November 30, 2012 at 10:50 pm. It’s filed under People, Places and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

16 thoughts on “Air raid shelter, Ravenor Park

  1. carole on said:

    the air raid shelters in Ravenor Park were originally covered by metal covers, similar to sewer covers found around houses, that could be lifted in an air raid, the covers had small holes where a lifting bar could be used to gain access to the ladders…..
    i, with many of my school friends sat on the metal covers during our school lunchtime breaks, they were dry and a higher vantage point to see who was around, the boys came from Stanhope Senior Boys School (original entrance where Ladbrokes is in Greenford Broadway), and the girls came up the hill from Coston Secondary Modern Girls School at the bottom of Oldfield Lane South, (now Coston Primary). we regulary peered into the lifting holes , goodness knows what we thought we would see as it was totally dark.

    the concrete covers were done at a much later date possibly the late 70’s. more likely to prevent vandalism and entry and presumably for health and safety regulations.

    the slabs are much more recent. around 1995, the Greenford Town Management group of which i was Chair, arranged with councillors and council officers to get 3 or 4 picnic tables placed close to the play area. however, referring back to vandalism in the park, the picnic benches were smashed and so removed. all that is left are those concrete slabs.

    carole

    • Thanks for telling me this because I could find absolutely nothing about the shelter, I was hoping that someone who could remember using it at the time would tell me about it. There is another one in Hanger Hill Park, near Hanger Lane and I was told that someone died there. I have seen photos of other shelters with large entrances so I wondered if the slabs covered that because the patch seemed to be about the right size.

  2. Vivien Thorne on said:

    I am grateful for this explanation – I can remember sitting with my dad on one of the metal covers – eating cakes from the bakers opposite. I should have asked him at the time.

  3. Arthur Baldwin on said:

    Hi. Very interesting article. As a kid I used to play on the shelter in Hangar Hill Park. I too was told that people died there. My Dad was walking home from South Ealing where he was courting my Mum. He was caught in an air raid while walking over Hangar Hill. He was turned away from the shelter. Just as well, as later it received a direct hit. I was told that people were killed. I am trying to find out more as it contributes to the family history that I am compiling.
    Arthur Baldwin

    • I can confirm that people died in the Hanger Hill shelter as I had a conversation with someone who knew the casualties. I recommend a book called “Ealing, Acton and Southall at War” by Dennis Upton (The History Press). Try contacting the author and the person who deals with local history at the London Borough of Ealing’s libraries. You will probably find the contact details on Ealing Council’s website. You could also ask about it on the “Greenford, Middlesex” page on Facebook or on the ealingtoday.co.uk forum.
      .

  4. Denis Hoare on said:

    My dad’s brother, Henry Hoare, and his wife, May, were killed in the Hanger Hill Park trenches shelter on Tuesday, 1st October 1940, along with everyone else who was in there. I was told by my dad that the bomb went down a ventilation shaft, and that the people were found intact, killed more by the blast pressure than being blown apart. I was also told that it was a bomb that wasn’t dropped onto a target, but just unused and jettisoned from a plane before returning to Germany.

    • That’s a very sad story and a reminder of the impact on the home front in the borough. You can still see the uneven ground in Hanger Hill Park where the shelter is. I was told by someone who just made it into one before they closed it that he thought he had been injured by a bomb landing close by when it was in fact a woman who had rushed in after him and fallen on top of him. Thank you for sharing this piece of your family’s history.

    • Anthony Smith on said:

      I lived at the top of the hill in Hanger Lane and the shelter in the park was the nearest to our home, my father was an ARP warden and was called out on duty during air raids which left my mother and myself by ourselves. My mother said to me on a number of times that we should go down the shelter. As a 15/16 year old boy I didn’t want to go to the shelter at that age one doesn’t see dangers so much and as such we never did go to the shelter.
      The night it was bombed I remember well it had been a very busy raid with the guns going off then all of a sudden I heard the bombs coming down there were three in all I was in the garage at the time and jumped down under the car.
      When my father came in he said the shelter in the park had been hit.
      I remember there was a motor bike standing close to the shelter and it stood there for days I can only imagine it was someone who was going along the road and pulled in there when the raid got bad.

  5. Stephen Adamthwaite on said:

    As a kid growing up on Oldfield lane we used to play in Ravenor Park often and often wondered what these concrete slabs were which in the 50’s had holes in them.We used to shout down the holes and the other kids would listen to the ghostly echoes sounds at the other ones

  6. Mark Sayers on said:

    My great grandfather was killed in the Hanger Hill shelter. His death certificate states 1 October 1940. Hanger Hill Trenches. His death is also listed on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website.

    • Thank you for sharing the story of your great grandfather. The CWGC website is a very good source of information.

    • Arthur Baldwin on said:

      Hi Mark. Very interesting comments. I note the date 1st. October 1940. From what I remember of my Dad telling me of that night, I always assumed that his experience was early 1941. He was courting my Mum who lived in South Ealing and would walk from Iveagh Avenue, where the canal aqueduct crosses the Nth. Circ. Road all the way to Darwin Road in S. Ealing and then back again to snatch a few hours sleep before work in the morning. This particular night there was a heavy raid and he took shelter in Hanger Hill woods under the trees. He could hear shrapnel coming down, tearing through the tree branches and thought it would only be a matter of time before he was hit, so he ran across to the park and the shelter only to be turned away . He was told that the place was full. So he walked / ran home still dodging shrapnel. It must have been quite a shock to here of the deaths of so many.
      I just wish that I had written it all down. He must have told me this over 60 years ago. I was interested but nothing like as interested as I am now.

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