Carlisle Street W1

11 May 1941

By Nichola O'Brien

On 11 May 1941 at around 12.45am, Carlisle Street W1 – between Dean and Wardour Streets and close to Soho Square - was hit by a single high explosive bomb. The explosion tore through the western end of Carlisle Street, damaged Richmond Buildings - two streets south - and blocked off Dean Street. The heavy blast also completely demolished Carlisle House, an elegant eighteenth century city mansion, home to the British Board of Film Censors from 1936.

Initially, civil defence workers issued conflicting reports. A City of Westminster message form for 12.55am warned that two fire watchers were trapped at the incident scene, location unknown. A City of Westminster Air Raid Report also noted the total destruction of Carlisle House and that six individuals were possibly trapped inside, including two wardens and a messenger. 

When rescue workers, ambulances and stretcher parties arrived at Carlisle Street, they discovered large piles of debris and coal gas escaping from broken mains. A pencilled note, written by Civil Defence workers on 13 May, described the smell of coal gas as strongest around 7 and 10 Carlisle Street; rescue efforts were suspended until the gas line was fixed. To complicate relief efforts further, a fire then broke out nearby, behind the Richmond Buildings in Richmond Mews. The Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) was called to the scene to extinguish the flames.

After extensive efforts by Heavy Rescue teams, four ARP fatalities were finally confirmed in the Carlisle Street incident.City of Westminster ARP had lost two colleagues on firewatching duty in Carlisle House: ARP Warden George Hydes and his 14 year-old son, ARP Messenger Martin Hydes, both of 17 Carlisle Street. Two more ARP members were also later identified as Carlisle Street fatalities.

Photo:Carlisle Street damage, 11 May 1941

Carlisle Street damage, 11 May 1941

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Diadem Court looking toward Carlisle Street, 11 May 1941

Diadem Court looking toward Carlisle Street, 11 May 1941

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Carlisle Street, 11 May 1941

Carlisle Street, 11 May 1941

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Message Form for Carlisle Street Incident

Message Form for Carlisle Street Incident

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:ARP Message Form for Carlisle Street, W1

ARP Message Form for Carlisle Street, W1

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Bomb Map: Carlisle Street W1

Bomb Map: Carlisle Street W1

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Carlisle Street, W1

This page was added by Ronan Thomas on 13/09/2010.
Comments about this page

This incident is of particular interest to my brother and I, as both our Grandfather and Uncle were killed during this raid. You indicate some confusion as to whether the "two firewatchers survived". We can confirm that George Frederick Hydes (aged 42 and an Air Raid Warden) and his son Martin Roger Hydes (aged 14 and an ARP Messenger), were both killed during this raid at No 10, Carlisle House, Carlisle Street, Soho on 10th May 1941.

Both were fire watching at Carlisle House, Carlisle Street W1, which was completely destroyed by high explosive bombs (probably 2 x 500Kg or larger), as you rightly highlight.

It’s sad that Martin was evacuated by our grandparents at the start of the Blitz, but they missed him so much that they brought him home, only to die a few months later with his father. Both were living at 17 Carlisle Street W1.

We can also confirm that, as noted in the Air Raid Damage Report, a total of six people were seemingly trapped. The scribbled note at the right hand side of the report states that, “Warden Somers was also killed, along with another messenger ... who was killed by blast in the doorway”.

By Alan and Colin Hydes
On 10/10/2010

My great grandparents were killed in Carlisle House that day. Thank you for the information.

By Stephanie Partington
On 30/08/2011

My Uncle Thomas Holman and my Aunt Ada lived at 7, Carlisle Street. As a child of 5 I was taken by my father on a periodic visit to see his elder brother. It must have been a Sunday morning. I can remember now in 2012 seeing my uncle's house that day with the front blown off, so that you could look into the rooms with furniture in them, as you do into a doll's house. My uncle and aunt must have been safe, because they were around foer years after that, but we did not see them that Sunday.

By Frederick Holman
On 28/01/2012

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