Ebury Bridge SW1

21 December 1940

By Laura Zaepfel

On the cold night of 21 December 1940 a massive explosion rocked the railway line close to Ebury Bridge, near Victoria Station. The blast destroyed a section of line, demolished houses on Hugh Street, badly damaged the Art Metal Company Building and broke windows in the Imperial Airways Terminal Building (Airways House) opposite. Initial witness reports were confused and contradictory, ascribing it to either a crashing plane, parachute mine or very heavy calibre bomb. It was unusual in that it was the only German weapon that fell on London that night.

Some witnesses claimed they saw an ‘an orange glow in the sky, making a roaring noise, and moving rather slower than an aeroplane.’ (William Sansom, The Blitz: Westminster in War, 1947). Whatever they saw, five observer telephone warnings were made before it reached the ground. The doors of the Kingston First-Aid Post - in Knightsbridge - were blown in by the impact.

196 casualties were reported, of whom three were fatal. Many had to be extracted from damaged local houses. 56 rescue vehicles attended the blast site; over 100 Royal Engineers helped railway workers clear the Southern Railway line and restore the route south from Victoria.

Ebury Bridge and Victoria were not the only areas affected by the mystery detonation. Sloane Square was covered in glass and debris while external damage were done to houses up to a half-mile distance. A section of railway line was found in Chichester Street. Other detritus and parts of railway sleepers were found across Pimlico, some as far as Chelsea Bridge. In Hugh Street, an iron signal gantry was found, having been blown off the line during the night. Twisted metal shards were found close to the nearby Art Metal Company Building, promoting the theory of a downed plane.

Regional ARP Headquarters later assessed the blast effects as consistent with a 2,500kg (5,500lb) 'Max' bomb - the heaviest in the Luftwaffe's arsenal.

The Ebury Bridge area (Semley Place) was hit again - by a parachute mine - during the major raid of 16-17 April 1941. 

Photo:Damage to Southern Railway, Ebury Bridge SW1

Damage to Southern Railway, Ebury Bridge SW1

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Rear of damaged Art Metal Company

Rear of damaged Art Metal Company

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Damage near Ebury Bridge, December 1940

Damage near Ebury Bridge, December 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Bomb Map: Ebury Bridge

Bomb Map: Ebury Bridge

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Ebury Bridge SW1

This page was added by Laura Zaepfel on 24/06/2011.
Comments about this page

My family moved from the West End in 1956 to the Abbots manor Estate which was built on the site of this air raid. The remains of the Ebury Arms public house was still on the corner of Warwick Way and Ebury Bridge and Stanley Place still existed.

By Karl Alleman
On 25/04/2013

In 1950 My family moved to 174 Warwick Way which was next door to the bombed out Ebury Arms pub. As a child, I played in the bomb site at the back of our house. It was very interesting to see the bomb map of this area but sad to think how many families lost their homes and lives.

By Jean Hoborough
On 16/07/2013

Karl Alleman, your father was the caretaker Jack, right?

By Mena Minx
On 25/10/2016

my family lived on the Abbots Manor estate and my brother now owns the flat

By Pat mcGrane
On 11/07/2022

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