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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): LCC/AR/WAR
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): 1938-1946
Level of description: Collection
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Extent: 1.43 linear metres
Name of creator(s): LCC | London County Council x London County Council


Administrative/Biographical history:

In 1889 the Architect to the Metropolitan Board of Works was transferred to the newly formed London County Council, as the responsibilities of the MBW were being transferred to the LCC. This was later confirmed by the London Building Act 1894, in which the London County Council was given power to appoint a "superintending architect of metropolitan buildings" to oversee the enforcement of regulations outlined in the Act. Actual enforcement would be done by the District Surveyors, who had to make a monthly return to the Council reporting on any new buildings and any infringement of the Act.

The role of the Architect soon developed as the range of structures constructed under order of the Council grew. By 1909 there were 13 Committees dealing with construction works, and 35 sub-committees. The work included the construction of housing (under the Housing of the Working Classes Act 1890), including slum clearance; construction of buildings in connection with the introduction of electricity; construction of educational buildings, from nursery schools to colleges; construction of hospitals and institutions; construction of fire brigade stations; street and road improvements; maintenance and construction of bridges; public parks; Weights and Measures Stations and Gas Meter Testing Stations. The Architect was responsible for overseeing the design and construction of all these buildings.

During the Second World War the District Surveyors were made responsible for all rescue and demolition work on damaged and unsafe buildings, while the Architect's Department manned the control centres and depots of the Rescue Service, assumed responsibility for the provision of air raid shelters for the Council's staff, and ran the War Debris Service to deal with the work of clearing debris resulting from war damage. Training for the Rescue Service was provided at training schools organised and staffed by the department. When the heavy raids started in September 1940 the Rescue Service went into full operation. It was clear that the specialist knowledge of its members enabled them to foresee the behaviour of damaged buildings and to estimate the risks of rescue. By May 1941 the Service has rescued 10,000 live casualties, at the cost of the lives of 34 rescue officers. After 1941 the Service was renamed the Heavy Rescue Service and was brought into line with other civil defence services. Mobile parties of men with cranes and heavy plant were posted at civil defence centres. When flying bomb attacks began the Heavy Rescue Service rescued 7,175 people alive and recovered 2,329 bodies. 64 personnel were injured and 3 killed.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the London County Council Architect's Department relating to Emergency Wartime Measures, including Rescue Service orders to contractors to carry out urgent emergency works, 1940-1941; papers relating to the reorganisation of the Rescue Service, 1942; central office arrangements, 1939-1941; notes for the guidance of rescue parties in the London Civil Defence Region, 1940; Rescue Service physical training instructors, 1939-1943; staffing of the War Debris Survey and Disposal, 1941-1942; Architect's Department emergency staff arrangements, 1938-1939; staff matters relating to the closing down of the Rescue Service, 1945-1946; proceedings and report of Departmental Committee on Staffing and Organisation of the Architect's Department, 1942-1943; report of the Departmental Committee on the Utilisation of Staff and the Elimination of Non-Essential Work, 1942; meetings of Principal Officers in Architect's Department, 1942-1944; Special Course in Air Raid Precautions run by the University of London in conjunction with Ministry of Home Security, May 1940; assistance to Civil Defence services by the Home Guard, 1944; working papers used in preparation and final draft of the War History of the Architect's Department, 1945; lists of awards for gallantry awarded to the Heavy Rescue Service, 1939-1945; Rescue Service Circular Memoranda numbers 1 to 891, 1939-1945; Rescue Service General Orders numbers 1 to 176, 1941-1945.

Records from the Paddington District Surveyor's District, 1940-1945, including index book of war damaged premises; incident record books; War damage Survey notebooks; orders to contractors in relation to dangerous structures; Borough Council's demolition or works orders; incident report forms; incident reports on work done (includes those attended outside Paddington under mutual assistance arrangements); dangerous structure notices under Defence Regulations; daily returns of incidents; schedules of areas suggested for future redevelopment. Also tracings of maps showing damage caused by individual flying bomb and rocket incidents in Stepney, 1944.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

LCC/AR/WAR/1: General; LCC/AR/WAR/2: Memoranda and Instructions; LCC/AR/WAR/3: papers of Heavy Rescue Service Paddington District.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright: City of London

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Acquired with the records of its parent body, the London County Council.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Papers of the LCC Architect's Department: LCC/AR/BA: London Building Acts; LCC/AR/CB: Council Buildings, LCC/AR/CD: Civil Defence; LCC/AR/CON: Contracts; LCC/AR/GEN: Organisational Financial and General; LCC/AR/HB: Historic Buildings, LCC/AR/HS: Housing; LCC/AR/PP: Presented Plans; LCC/AR/SCH: Council Buildings; LCC/AR/TH: Theatres, Cinemas and Places of Entertainment; LCC/AR/TP: Town Planning; LCC/AR/WAR: Emergency Wartime Measures.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
April to June 2009

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