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Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0074 ACC/1224
Held at: London Metropolitan Archives
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Date(s): c 1952-1960
Level of description: Collection
Extent: 0.30 linear metres
Name of creator(s): Civil Defence Corps | Middlesex Division


Administrative/Biographical history:

The Civil Defence Department existed from 1938-1946 and from 1948-1965. It reported to the Air Raids Precautions Committee (1938-1939) and the Civil Defence Committee (1948-1965).

The Civil Defence (Suspension of Powers) Act, 1945, suspended some provisions of the Civil Defence Acts 1937 and 1939, notably the obligations the local authorities had to prepare air raid precaution schemes, build shelters, train civil defence volunteers and organise the blackout. Full time civil defence staff were no longer required. The Home Office continued to encourage the activities of local Civil Defence branches of volunteers. These branches were strong in the Middlesex local districts so the County Council appointed honorary liaison officers to work with the branches. This work continued until the passing of the Civil Defence Act 1947.

The Civil Defence organisation stood down after the Second World War ended in 1945. In December 1948 the Civil Defence Act 1947 came into force and the County Council again received civil defence responsibilities. The new Act had been passed as an attempt to offer a measure of protection to the civilian population in the event of another war and in particular to tackle the new atomic warfare. The functions of the County Council fell into two areas: the organisation of the Middlesex Division of the Civil Defence Corps and the preparation of plans for the operation of certain war-time services The Civil Defence Committee sat again and a small Civil Defence Department was established under the County Civil Defence Officer. The County Council was again made responsible for the five areas of Hertfordshire within the Metropolitan Police District.

The County Council was responsible for the enrolment and training of volunteers to make up the Middlesex Defence Corps. The Civil Defence Committee decided at a very early stage that the lower tier authorities should play a large role in civil defence and be responsible for enrolling and training volunteers under the County Council's supervision. It was felt that a better response would be received from the general public if volunteers were organised locally. The local authorities were arranged into three sub-groups -
Group A: Barnet, Cheshunt, East Barnet, Edmonton, Enfield, Finchley, Friern Barnet, Hornsey, Potters Bar, Southgate, Tottenham, Wood Green;
Group B: Bushey, Elstree, Harrow, Hendon, Rusilip-Northwood, Uxbridge, Wembley, Willesden and
Group C: Acton, Brentford and Chiswick, Ealing, Feltham, Hayes and Harlington, Heston and Isleworth, Southall, Staines, Sunbury-on-Thames, Twickenham, Yiewsley and West Drayton. The Corps was divided by the Civil Defence Act into five sections; headquarters; warden; ambulance and casualty collecting; rescue; welfare. Recruitment began in November 1949 and by the end of the year 8,579 members had been enrolled. The County Council retained the responsibility for ensuring that the instructors were trained. Qualifications could be obtained at Home Office Technical Training Schools.

Volunteers received basic training and then proceeded to work within the section of the Corps in which they had enrolled. The County Council provided courses for instructors to use for the headquarters, warden and ambulance sections and guided the local authorities in selecting the instructors for the welfare section. To ensure that volunteers were properly trained the County Council encouraged the districts to establish civil defence training centres and authorised expenditure with this in mind. Likewise the purchase of equipment was encouraged. By the end of 1952 25 districts had incendiary bomb huts; 24 districts had gas chambers and 13 districts had gas compounds. The Civil Defence Corps was often called in to assist other emergency services, for example in transport accidents and searches for missing children.

The County Civil Defence Officer was the chief officer of the department. Under him were four assistant Civil Defence Officers, an Assistant Rescue Officer, six full time instructors with clerical and manual support staff. There were personnel within other County Council departments who were charges within the planning of the emergency services and were so involved in civil defence work. There was a sub-divisional Civil Defence Officer in each local authority for whose salary expenses the local authority was reimbursed by the County Council.

In 1962 central government initiated an overhaul of the running of Civil Defence Corps. The aim of this reorganisation was to enhance the status of the Corps, to improve efficiency, and to develop a nucleus of highly trained volunteers. These changes took effect from 1 October 1962 and the most significant effect was to improve the standards of training. The civil defence functions of the County Council passed to the new London Boroughs and the county councils of Hertfordshire and Surrey.


Scope and content/abstract:

Photographs of the Middlesex Civil Defence Corps including exercises, competitions and social events.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Two items catalogued as ACC/1224/001-002.

Conditions governing access:

Available for general access.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copyright to these records rests with the depositor.

Finding aids:

Please see online catalogues at:

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Records deposited in December 1973.

Allied Materials

Related material:

For more records relating to the Middlesex Civil Defence Corps see the records of the Middlesex County Council Civil Defence Department, reference MCC/CD/GEN.

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:
June to August 2010.

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