The Ghosts of Manor House Gardens’ Air Raid Shelters

There used to be several signs in the area around Manor House Gardens pointing towards air raid shelters in the park – the remains of one is fading rapidly on Lee High Road, at the corner of Brandram Road.

Another is hidden behind advertising hoardings on what was once known as the Firs Estate, and the best preserved visible one is close to where Old Road meets Manor Lane Terrace suggesting ‘Shelter for 600’.

P1040133.JPG
The one surviving structure that was used as a was the Ice House. It was probably built in 1773, when the rest of the grounds of the Manor House were laid out; the House itself had been constructed the year before for Thomas Lucas. It stayed in use as an Ice House until around 100 years ago but fell into disuse when the Manor House was transferred to the council and became a library, although at one stage the Ice House was used as stables. It was refurbished in 2000 and is open to the public between 3pm and 5pm on the 1st and 3rd Sundays between May and September.P1030220.JPG
There is certainly plenty of room inside the Ice House, but nothing like enough space for 600 people.IMG_0504.JPG
One of the information boards within the Ice House mentions the decision to close one of the three Air Raid Shelters on 24 June1941, ‘construction was substandard and the structure dangerous.’ So where in the Gardens’ were the other two shelters?

There appears to be nothing on-line that would help in locating them. However, there is a tool that the modern archaeologist uses – the aerial photograph, and with this Google Maps is helpful, or at least was in 2014 when this screen shot was taken.
Fortunately, the photos were taken during a dry period, probably in the dry summer of 2011 and some outlines appear. There are two sets of construction visible from above – one just south-west of the cafe (just to the south of where there used to be a tennis court) and one just to the east of the Ice House entrance (at the west of the photo). The latter is separate to the Ice House whose construction (according to a map display inside) were to the north of the entrance – towards Pentland House.

During the dry summer of 2018, the outline by the Ice House was visible on the ground, the photo is looking south towards Manor Lane.

None of the time series of Victorian Ordnance Survey maps in the National Library of Scotland  on-line collection suggest any structures in these locations in the Park.  Similarly, the early Edwardian photos on display inside the Ice House suggest no construction at either of the points, so maybe they were the locations of the Air Raid Shelters.

Advertisements

11 thoughts on “The Ghosts of Manor House Gardens’ Air Raid Shelters

    1. runner500 Post author

      There must be loads of stuff that is visible this way, I found some remains of post WW2 temporary housing a couple of evenings ago, I bet there is loads more visible if photos taken when dry – so should be a lot around you.

      Reply
      1. WalkToRio

        I sometimes spend hours exploring.
        I just noticed I wrote loBe instead of loVe. Since the new update the aurocorrector doesn’t work on WordPress. It sucks, first they make depend on it and then they take it away.

    1. runner500 Post author

      It was refurbished around the turn of the century and is certainly worth a visit, although I think you’ll have to wait until next May. Manor House Gardens is a really pleasant park too with a great cafe, although it can get quite crowded on sunny summer days. Thanks for the kind comments.

      Reply
  1. Pingback: Prefabs from Above | Running Past

  2. Pingback: Old Road & Beyond – A Walk Through Some of Lee’s Past | Running Past

  3. Pingback: Mountsfield – the Park, the House & the Butterflies | Running Past

  4. Pingback: Preparation for World War Two – Going Underground | Running Past

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.