Monday, 4 May 2009

Introduction to the LCC Bomb Damage Maps

At the end of the Second World War, The London County Council commissioned maps detailing the nature and extent of bomb damage throughout the capital. These maps are kept at the London Metropolitan Archives, who also have a facsimile set on public view. In Autumn 2008, I photographed the full set, and made them available on flickr.

War torn London - the big picture
Composite image of LCC bomb damage maps

A book of these maps was produced by the London Topographical Society, but is very difficult to get hold of. Some London Borough Libraries have copies for reference, but I feel these maps should be more widely available.

The maps highlight damage to each individual dwelling – coded from black (total destruction) to yellow (minor damage). Documentation of damage to public buildings is somewhat erratic. Here is a sample map of an area of Kennington in South London which suffered considerable damage:

- Total destruction
Purple - Damage beyond repair
Dark Red - Seriously damaged, doubtful if repairable
Light Red - Seriously damaged, repairable at cost
Orange - General blast damage, minor in nature
Yellow - Blast damage, minor in nature
Green - Clearance areas
Small circle - V2 Bomb
Large circle - V1 bomb

These maps are fascinating documents, and extremely useful for investigating London’s wartime history, but they do have shortcomings. The most frustrating of these is that they only cover the LCC area, which excludes badly hit areas of Essex, Kent, Surrey and Middlesex which were already very built up, and now form part of Greater London.

LCC Boundary Map, 1948
The LCC covers the red area here - as you can see, much of Greater London is excluded.

The local authorities in these areas produced their own maps, which are less well documented than the LCC maps (see an example of a map for Wimbledon here). The Middlesex County Council Maps are held by the LMA, and resemble the LCC maps, but have a different, less detailed, colour scheme.

Neasden bomb damage map
Middlesex County Council Bomb Damage Map for Neasden

My flickr set of these maps provoked lively discussion and numerous responses on blogs and local community forums. My next post will highlight some of these. Future posts will examine some of this material further, in combination with modern mapping and information technology.


  1. What happened to the photos - were you forced to take them down?

  2. From a different Anonymous

    Not all of us live near the London Metropolitan Archives so please make them available again on flickr or if this causes problems try a different photo management sharing application

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