Madame Tussauds, Marylebone Road

9 September 1940
By Brittni Morris

Established in 1835 on Baker Street and based on Marylebone Road NW1 since 1884, Madame Tussauds is world famous for its waxwork figures of royalty, celebrities and historical scenes. Some reports suggested damage to Madame Tussauds on the first night of the London Blitz, on 7 September 1940. But confirmed local ARP reports started flooding in at dawn on 9 September 1940

At around 4.20am a single high explosive bomb detonated near Madame Tussauds, at the intersection of Marylebone Road, Chiltern Street, and Allsop Place. The bomb destroyed 352 head moulds, scattered waxwork figures from their places and demolished most of the Tussauds Cinema (built in 1925). The rear of the Cinema was pulverised, leaving the interior exposed and only its facade facing Marylebone Road untouched. Dozens of windows from surrounding addresses were blown out.

Throughout 9 September, City of Marylebone ARP message forms reported information about the severity of the bombing and the impact on the vicinity. These messages updated water-main breakage,fire and casualties in the area. One early report suggested about 40 injured with more trapped under the wreckage. An exact casualty number was not established.

Many of Madame Tussauds head moulds and parts of the adjoining cinema were completely destroyed during the bombing. Hilde Marchant, a staff reporter for the Daily Express, covered the bomb damage. She confirmed that the cinema was indeed lost, as well as two of the galleries nearby. She wrote:

It was a macabre joke, stepping over wax arms and torn wax torsos. Naturally I had hoped Hitler was broken, but little had happened to that gang. The head boy himself had slipped to one side and chipped a lump out of his face.”

The bomb site drew crowds of spectators during the rest of the day, including (as noted in her diary) the writer Virginia Woolf.

Though the building was severely damaged, the Tussauds Group decided to restore it and reopened the attraction to the public at the end of 1940. Tussauds did not rebuild the cinema but built the London Planetarium instead, which opened in 1958. The addition of the Planetarium sparked renewed interest in Madame Tussauds and soon became a key exhibit. Today, Madame Tussauds remains a highly popular attraction for both Londoners and tourists alike.

Photo:Damage to Chiltern St. near Madame Tussauds, September 1940

Damage to Chiltern St. near Madame Tussauds, September 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:Damage to Chiltern St. near Madame Tussauds, September 1940

Damage to Chiltern St. near Madame Tussauds, September 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:ARP Message Form, Madame Tussauds, 9 September 1940

ARP Message Form, Madame Tussauds, 9 September 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:ARP Message Form, Madame Tussauds, 1940

ARP Message Form, Madame Tussauds, 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Photo:ARP Message Form, Madame Tussauds, 1940

ARP Message Form, Madame Tussauds, 1940

Copyright Westminster City Archives

Madame Tussauds, Marylebone Road

This page was added by Brittni Morris on 24/06/2011.

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