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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Thanked 6 Times in 6 Posts

    Arrow Clapham North Deep Level Shelter, London. March 2011

    All eight Deep Level shelters built during 1941-1942 under existing London Underground stations remained under the ownership of the British Government for many years after the cessation of hostilities. The initial plan of incorporating them into an express rail route through the centre of London was initially shelved and then abandoned due to the lack of money after the War. Then, in the late 1990s, London Underground was given the opportunity to take control of the shelters with a view to leasing them out.

    Since then, the deep level shelters have been progressively leased to companies interested in using them to store items such as documents, film, videotapes and other similar archive material. All except Clapham North, which has remained completely empty since its contents were cleared after the War.

    Transport for London advertised the lease for Clapham North deep level shelter using a local estate agent and the requests came in. Many interesting and unusual requests for use were suggested but had to be rejected for health and safety reasons - the most common being people wanting to construct a nightclub in the 1,400ft tunnels! Some suggested creating living accommodation there - though precisely who would like to live in an unlit tunnel over 100ft beneath London is unclear considering the noise from trains travelling the Clapham line! It was even rumoured that a large entertainment company had seriously looked into the possibility of converting one of these locations into a theme park ride based on World War 2 air raids! Realistically though, the only practical use for this prime central London real estate space would be for storage.

    Each shelter consisted of two parallel tunnels that were 16ft 6in (approx. 4.9m) in diameter and were 1400ft (approx. 427m) in length. Two pairs of shafts were sunk for each shelter, with the pairs being sited a distance from each other in case a bomb struck, blocking a shaft. At each location, one shaft was for the spiral staircase and lift, the other a narrower ventilation shaft.

    The two tunnels were interconnected at various places along their length. A floor was constructed at the horizontal diameter level of the tunnel, providing two decks of accommodation. Ventilation, medical, and catering facilities were provided and electricity was obtained from two sources in case bombing caused one to fail - the local authority and the London Underground system, which had its own power station at Lotts Road.

    The spiral staircases were constructed in the form of a double helix. One staircase would lead to the upper deck, the other to the lower. This was to allow shelterers to be able to quickly access their destination deck with minimum confusion. On the whole, the upper and lower decks were run independently, though access between decks was provided in the mid-point and at both end of the tunnels. The lift would have access to both upper and lower decks, but was not meant to be used by shelterers.

    Toilet facilities were constructed near the lift shafts, with the sewage being periodically hydraulically pumped up a rising main to a sewer close to surface level. There was storage capacity of 5 days for sewage should the hydraulic mechanism fail for some reason. Water was supplied from the local water supply, but should this fail, each shaft was equipped with a 3000 gallon tank of water near the surface.


    Each shelter was originally designed to house up to 12,000 people but by the time they were built, the number of bunks had been dropped to a more comfortable 8,000. Bunks were arranged along the walls in various configurations, to maximise use of space.


    Ventilation is vital in such a confined environment and a lot of thought was given to this. Air entered the shelter through the entrances and flowed down the spiral staircases, along the connecting tunnels into the shelter area. Stale air was then sucked out of the shelter through metal pipes in the roof (top deck) and under the floor (bottom deck). A fan pumped the air up a specially constructed ventilation shaft, out into a 30ft high tower so that it exhausted well away from the fresh air entering at ground level. When the fans were run at maximum power, the air in the shelter would be completely changed 15 times an hour.

    The air was filtered in case of gas attack. All doors were gas seals when closed, and should there be an attack, the entrance doorways would be shut, with the air passing through grilles in the roof of the pill box (clearly visible on the Goodge Street picture below) and through gas filtration equipment.

    (Pic Nick Catford - Subbrit)

    Thanks for looking..

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to vwdirtboy For This Useful Post:

    yamabushi (19-06-2011)

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Brrrrap'ford brap brap brap brap brap brap brap
    Thanked 479 Times in 408 Posts

    Default Re: Clapham North Deep Level Shelter, London. March 2011

    'tis a belting site this one. Was it you I bumped into there?!? The fish eye has worked out really well!

    flickr my bean

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