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Harringay, Haringey - So Good they Spelt it Twice!

Hello all, 

It's been rumoured for some time (and says on wikipedia) there there were potentially air raid shelters under Green Gate Common (the green space opposite Ducketts Common just off West Green Road).

I'd much appreciate some insight or information if anybody has any, and thought where better to find out more than Harringay Online

Thanks, John

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It comes up as Green Gate Common, so I'll read that one.

Yeah, autocorrect went a bit odd on that one somehow

I don't know the answer but can offer some thoughts.

On the one hand it seems like an unlikley location because the deep tube station was so near. However, I know that there were what were referred to as 'trench shelters' locally. For exao=mple there was one, just off Tottenham Lane, on Broad Lane, behind the Britton's Pickle factory. 

Armed with that much, a quick Google turned up the following generalities.

Following the outbreak of World War II, there was a variety of designs for shelters designed to protect the populace from air-raids. For those who didn't have Anderson or Morrison shelters or access to London Underground stations, an alternative was the 'Trench' shelters in public parks. These were very basic and were designed for people who were caught out when an air-raid occurred; but concerns were expressed about the safety of their design.

(London Remembers)

That sounds about right, The Broad Lane Shelter, proved this point when a number of people using it were killed by a near or direct hit.


Trenches were dug on open pieces of land and reinforced with sandbags, sheet metal, and wooden props. These were intended both as shelters from bombing or strafing and subsequently to prevent gliders from landing. Later on, many of these trenches were built up with steel, concrete panels, or cast concrete, to create more stable and better protected shelters that could survive bombs exploding underground close by, as well as providing more comfortable accommodation.

(Military History | Air Raid Shelters:A short history of British air raid shelters.)

The Wikipedia page cites a Haringey Council pdf as its source. I had a quick look at that. It talks about the possibility only of there having been shelters. However, it was probably researched by the Bruce Castle Museum team. So, it shouldn't be discounted. If your interest is more than passing, I'd get in touch with Bruce Castle Museum of the Hornsey Historical Society. They're often good sources for this type of thing. Bruce Castle have, for example, papers on the construction of an air raid shelter at St Michael's Church Wood Green. HHS have a bomb map. I wonder if that might show the shelters?

Here's the 27 July 1947 aerial shot from the RAF collection which shows a lot of detail, but I'm not sure it helps you.

...and the 1947 OS. It shows some sort of structure, just to the north east of the "Lavs". It  looks very simillar to the Broad Lane, Hornsey one.

That image certainly shows you the the lack of traffic Hugh.

I would have thought there may well be something there, however modest. It may not have been a full on underground blitz shelter where you would spend the night, but I would expect there to be something anyone caught in the open during a sneak raid may be able to rapidly take shelter in. I know near my school as a kid there were structures that were used as emergency shelters, and I have seen several around London on my travels too. The structure you have identified may well be one.

A higher incidence of trench shelters within a half mile or so of Hornsey Station makes since we know it was a bombing target. I can't imagine they'd have spent the huge amount required to dig deep shelters linking to the underground when it was near enough to walk or run there on the surface. 

The structures would have be heaven for kids. When I was about 7 years old, my family moved from living in a road opposite Lion Gate near Kew Gardens to Surrey. We swapped our camps made in the rhododendrons beneath the pagoda to free-ranging around woods and commons which included a key WW2 aerodrome with all its shelters and whatnot. I've heard that the Broad Lane shelter was a similar magnet for kids locally. I assume that if there was anything at Duckett's that it survives in the living memory of living 85+ year olds. We have a couple of contributors on the site who have wartime memories. I was hoping they might chip in.

I think my neighbours lived here during the war. Let me see if I can ask them if I see them.

Great. Eyewitnesses are what we need.

I walked past at lunchtime and paused to grab a couple of shots. Here's what left in about the same location as the rectangular block shown on the 1947 map. However, if they mark the two ends of any structure, and if you were to join them up, the structure would have an NW-SE alignment as opposed to the NE-SW one shown for the structure on the map.

(I've darkened the second photo and brightened the spots with the structures to help locate them).

For comparison, here is a pair of images to match those I added above, They show the trench shelter at Broad Lane (which, btw, for most of the first half of the nineteenth century was in the very western part of the Harringay House Estate). On the map snippet, the shelter is just under the 'S' of Hornsey. You can make out a structure at the corresponding location in the photo. 

Here's a photo of the trench shelter in Bruce Castle Park. Since both this location and Duckett's Common were in Tottenham, the construction would have been very similar. 

I just found another aerial shot from 24 Aptil 1947. Without the leaves on the tree things are easier to see. Either the white blocks are the shelters or there's a single darker shape which matches with the rectangle on the map. So, I'd probably pump for that. It's also close to the brick and concrete structure rumps I snapped earlier.

Secondly, I found a recording of a chap being interviewed for the Imperial War Museum. As a young man, he recalls being in charge of building wahat sound like trench shelters on Duckett's Common. He's nor clear about where, but the photos suggest that the bigger area, to the weest of Green Lanes was used for growing food. Som I assume he's talking about the bit by West Green Road. You can listen via the page at the IWM website. The part about Ducketts starts at about 20 mins in. All of Ducketts was in Tottenham. I Assume Hornsey and Tottenham agreed who would build what shelters where and Hornsey got responsibility for Ducketts.

There’s a 1937 image available on Britain From Above that is taken from an angle and possibly shows the small building standing in that spot, although a very grainy image. 



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