About This Project

Photo:Studying the Bomb Map and working on the animation at Westminster Reference Library during West End Live

Studying the Bomb Map and working on the animation at Westminster Reference Library during West End Live

Camilla Bergman

West End at War

In 2010, to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of the Blitz (1940-1941), Westminster City Archives ran a series of high profile National Heritage Lottery-funded online resources, live performances, media and school events across the Borough. West End at War was part of Westminster Memories, a community-wide initiative designed to capture local history and community experience for Londoners, young and old. Westminster Archives holds one of the most complete collections of Blitz-related primary source materials in the country. These include large numbers of original paper messages sent by Westminster ARP wardens reacting to individual bomb incidents, a borough-wide Bomb Plot Map and detailed records of Westminster’s civil defence response to air attack.

The City of Westminster is fortunate to have such a rich collection. In other London boroughs, and across Britain as a whole, original records can be piecemeal, were lost or were even discarded.

During June 2010-February 2011, the Archives showcased new website, digital and film resources at several public venues. These included the West End Live 2010 festival in Leicester Square, from 19-20 June 2010, an animation workshop, discussion of the ARP Bomb Map, actor appearances and the Blitz memories of actual participants. 

West End at War featured the roll-out of a new Blitz website and the digitised Bomb Map (covering the main incidents across Westminster and St Marylebone), an exhibition of Westminster's official war artists at the SW1 Gallery, Victoria and the first public showing of rare, recently-restored colour footage of West End Blitz scenes. The release of this film was covered prominently by national and international broadcast media.

The Archives team also revealed the life stories of previously-unsung participants of the Blitz – such as the civil defence service of Nigerian-born Ita Ekpenyon, one of London’s very few Black British Air Raid Wardens, and the life of swing dance band leader Ken ‘Snakehips’ Johnson, tragically killed with 34 others at the Café de Paris nightclub in March 1941.

Volunteers are continuing to add material to this evolving site. Local residents, visitors to the capital and new generations of Londoners have a new opportunity to gain fresh insights into this critical period of British history.

This page was added by Camilla Bergman on 04/09/2010.
Comments about this page

Fabulous site!

By Simon
On 26/11/2010

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