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Protecting the Transport Network during WWII

Object Type: Folder
In Folder: WWII Showcase

Date of Document

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.

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.

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.

Protecting the Transport Network

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.

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

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.”

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