Doreen Remembers

Image accompanying MP3 audio clip: Doreen.mp3 ( KB)

Dorreen speaks about life in the coal cellars

We practically lived in the coal cellars!

By Doreen Green

Westminster City Council did wonderful work at the beginning of the war. The houses where we lived pretty much all had coal cellars under the pavements. Westminster City Council inspected the coal cellars, removed the coal and white washed the walls, they also dug holes in the side walls of all the cellars to give us access to the next cellar; this went all the way up the street and meant that if there was any damage by bombing you could go under the pavements from each adjoining house until you were able to come out into the open. 

Westminser City Council also supplied us with bunk beds, so our coal cellars became our air raid shelters. We would spend the whole night in the coal cellar. Some coal cellars were directly accessed from inside your home like ours was but if your home had access to the coal cellar from the street they were then listed as public shelters, so the council would put a big ‘Air Raid Shelter’ sign by the stairs that lead to the cellar.

I think it was a wonderful idea and one of my nieces was even actually born inside one of the coal cellars!

This page was added by Camilla Bergman on 23/08/2011.

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