Written by Staff Writer
17 Jan, 2016 | 5:06 pm
Deep beneath the train lines in part of south London lies a warren of secret tunnels that were used as air-raid shelters for up to 8,000 people during World War II and will be opened to the public forguided tours, the Transport for London (TfL) said, which runs the city’s metro system.
Clapham South Station looks like just another stop on the British capital’s sprawling metro network, but 120 feet (36.5 m) below street level lie secret bunkers where people sought shelter from the bombs, TfL said.
“The reason the government was looking at deep level shelters was because of the issues that they were having casualties, civilian casualties during the blitz in the Autumn of 1940 there was some significant casualties. And in January 1941 Bank tube station took a direct hit killing 56 people. This is 30 metres underground, 120 ft down and was deemed to be a much safer environment to help Londoners get through that terrible time,” said Justin Brand, Commercial Asset Management Director for TfL.
When people would have arrived at the station in the early 1940s, they would have shown their ticket to an air-raid warden which would have shown their individual bed number, Tfl said.
Much of the original signage still hangs on the walls from the days when the bunkers saved lives.
Brand said during the time the tunnels were used loudspeakers pumped music into the rooms and dancing and singing would go on into the night.
“There was a lot of camaraderie, a lot of dancing, a lot of telling stories, there were a lot of families down here, many children running around. And it was very difficult to sleep, as you can hear the tube train is very close by. This sort of proximity of people meant to keep each other’s spirits up there was a lot of dancing and singing,” Brand added.
After the war, the bunkers were used as a military and civilian hostel, TfL said. The names of some soldiers and their regiments could be seen on the written on the walls inside the tunnels.
It was also used as temporary accommodation for immigrants who arrived from Jamaica in 1948, TfL said.By opening the tunnels up to tours, TfL says it hopes to generate money to improve the city’s travel network.
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