Air Raid Precaution Centre

Photo:Air Raid Precaution, 2007

Air Raid Precaution, 2007

© Lisa Rigg

Rossendale Street, E5

Built in 1938 this air raid shelter is probably Hackney's only surviving structure of this kind. In the last few months the upper part of this building has been demolished and the remainder of the building is suffering from flooding and is in a very poor condition.

The listing description is as follows:

'Bunker built as Air Raid Precaution Centre. 1938. Concrete, approximately 2 metres thick and set about 1.2 metres below ground level as a half basement. Crudely built walls with shuttering lines; some shrapnel damage, particularly to the west face. Rectangular in plan, with long axis running on east-west line; all corners chamfered except for the southwest. Steps down at south corner, west face, into air lock: pair of steel doors with portholes, rubber gaskets and furniture of original design. Corridor along south wall giving access to Messenger's Room, Telephone Room and, at the east end of the bunker, the Supervisor's Office and Map Room. Reached by a short fixed ladder in the east wall of the Supervisor's Office and Map Room is a circular escape hatch to air lock; outer lock door has been removed. Entered off Messenger's room, and located at the west end of the block, are the Store Room and Machine Room. The Machine Room retains original plant for air supply and purification and emergency electricity supply, as well as ventilator ducts running from this room to the rest, along the north wall. The Electric generator pedal driven by a twin bicycle frame survives as does the tiered air filter units made by Sutcliffe Speakman and Co., Ltd. of Leigh, Lancs. On the north wall is a battery control unit made by the Chloride Electrical Storage Co. Ltd.,
linked to a chest on the floor which held a 12-volt battery for emergency lighting and heating. Two 12-volt light fittings survive in the ceiling. The storey above, flat roofed and made from brick, has been extensively altered: the earliest section is to the south. Concrete roof with shuttering lines throughout upper floor. The Rossendale Street ARPC was the northern report centre, part of a system which included a main centre located below Hackney Town Hall. It was used to co-ordinate information on bombing raids, for the deployment of teams for emergency rescue and repair work.'

Potential uses for this building are very limited, but it was 'adopted' as a monument by a local school, and could with some imagination be used for local children to visit as part of their history education.

This page was added on 12/06/2009.
Comments about this page

I was instrumental in getting this building listed, and now am very disapointed that English Heritage have allowed the building to get in this state. Along with several other interested parties we managed to open the building to the public on a few occasions, with the local British Legion acting as "Guard of Honour" on the open days. We collected and displayed a large collection of WW2 memoribilia, and we were hoping that it would remain as a place of special interest, in memory of all those people that were involved with the ARP during the second World War, for our future generations to come.

By Ken Jacobs
On 10/06/2010

Further to my previous message ... I hope the other remaining "Main Control Centre" which is under the car park at Hackney Town Hall, does not suffer the same fate as the Rossendale Street Bunker. The Town Hall one is much larger, and still retains much of it's original WW2 interior and chemical toilets and much more.

By Ken Jacobs
On 10/06/2010

We went by the shelter on the 4th April and were a little disappointed to see it's now in the middle of a building site. We got talking to one of the builders though and he said although they're building flats on top the shelter is being preserved and even opened to the public. Here's hoping!

By Louise
On 07/04/2011

Hello Louise. Glad to hear that it's to remain in situ. Would you be in a position to report back via this site from time to time on the progress made on it? Many thank's. Ken

By Ken Jacobs
On 19/04/2011

Yes of course Ken, I'll do my best. One of the builders invited us in if we brought a torch so I might take him up on it!

By Louise
On 08/08/2011