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Downhills Air-Raid Shelter Tragedy

   19th Sept 1940


We have for many years been gathering information about the Downhills Air-Raid shelter tragedy that occurred on the 19th Sept 1940 when many local people lost their lives. Sadly this tragic event has gone largely unmarked and no memorial was ever built as a lasting tribute to the victims and the heroic efforts of the emergency services. Hopefully we can help change that !

We have managed to obtain some microfiche extracts from the 'Tottenham & Edmonton Herald' dated Friday 27th Sept 1940 which we have scanned and tried to reproduce as follows. However, the print quality is very poor but hopefully just about legible. You must remember that during the war newspaper articles were strongly censored so as not to convey too much information to the enemy. Therefore locations and number of casualties are very vague. Nevertheless, we now know that the shelter referred to was the Downhills shelter situated just across the road in Lordship Recreation ground.



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  This leader article refers in general to ' A Public A.R.P Shelter in a suburban recreation ground'



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The article headed 'Thursday Nights Raid' provides more information on the events of 19th Sept 1940


We have received a number of memories and eye-witness accounts of the dreadful events in September 1940 which we have summarised below
downhi1.jpg (1887 bytes) We are very fortunate to have received a letter from Vera Firth which recalls her memories of the tragedy. It appears that her father Fred Firth was the acting A.R.P warden on duty that night and was one of the first on the scene and was undoubtedly one of the 'A.R.P Heroes' referred to in the report.  Please click ( HERE) to read Vera's vivid details of this tragic event.

Please also note that in his lifetime Fred Firth witnessed more than his fair share of death and disaster. As you may know we have reproduced his personal account of his exploits during WW1 which can be accessed from the 'Residents' section.

downhi1.jpg (1887 bytes) We have also received a letter from Ivy Franklin (nee Turner) who used to live in Gloucester Road and was a survivor of the shelter tragedy. Please click (HERE ) to read Ivy's recollection of the event together with her other memories of wartime in the area surrounding Summerhill Road.We have received notification of another website that features Ivy Franklin's Wartime memories. Please click (HERE) if you wish to be linked to this article.
downhi1.jpg (1887 bytes) We have also received a letter from another survivor of the shelter tragedy who lived in Durham (Kitchener) Road. Queenie Rawle (nee Gardner) has reported her memories of this tragic event. Please click HERE to read Queenie's article.
downhi1.jpg (1887 bytes) Of the many stories concerning the Shelter tragedy one of the saddest has to be that of the 'Martin' Family who tragically lost seven members of their family on that fateful night. We are fortunate to have been contacted by a member of the family who has been able shed more light on the events. Please click HERE to read the Martin Family article.
downhi1.jpg (1887 bytes) We have now located a very interesting biography of the Police Inspector who commanded the rescue operations at both the Downhills Shelter tragedy and the devastation resulting from the bombing of the 'Jewish Hospital' in High Road Tottenham. By a strange coincidence, Inspector Newark was also very prominent in promoting the Model Traffic Area in Lordship Recreation Ground which also features on our website.  Please click ( HERE) to read the biography of Inspector Newark.
(Also note that there are now links back to the Summerhill Road site. Alternatively use the 'BACK' button provided by your Internet Service provider)


Ray Swain has now produced a report on his findings on the Downhills Shelter tragedy to support his application to 'The Friends of Lordship Recreation Ground' and 'The West Green Community Chest' to dedicate a permanent memorial to the victims of the disaster. Please click (HERE) to read a full copy of his report.

The Friends of Lordship Recreation Ground are fully supportive of this project and have asked to join our appeal for anyone who may have knowledge of the tragedy to get in touch and share any information they may have, however insignificant it may first appear to be.


Following the commemoration ceremony held in Lordship Recreation Ground in November 2008 we have been successful in contacting 4 more people with information regarding the tragedy. Incredibly 3 of these were further survivors of the shelter tragedy and they have shared with us their recollections of the incident. The fourth person believes his father was perhaps one of the senior Civil Defence officers on duty that night and was involved in the rescue operation.
1 Ron Nancarrow Was alongside the Ball family who tragically lost one of their family members TO READ RON's STORY CLICK  HERE
2 Lilian Love   (nee Porter) Lilian is the Granddaughter of Elizabeth Finbow who unfortunately died in the incident TO READ LILIANs STORY CLICK  HERE
3 Fay Grant  (nee Simmons) Survived the tragedy along with her mother Gertrude Simmons TO READ FAY's STORY CLICK  HERE
4 Ron Mason Ron's family lived in Walpole Road and their house backed on to Lordship Recreation Ground. Preparing article for publication- Link will appear here.


The 'Friends of Lordship Rec' are fully committed to creating a lasting memorial to the poor souls who lost their lives in the 'Downhills Shelter Tragedy'. A memorial fund was created several years ago and it is planned to dedicate a memorial bridge which will span the River Moselle on completion of the Moselle brook restoration project. The memorial plaque will contain the names of all the known victims



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We plan to update this section on the 'Downhills Shelter Tragedy' quite frequently. In the meantime, if you have any memories of this tragedy or can recall any other details that will help us to gather more information on the incident, then please let either Ray Swain know or e-mail details to me at:


(First updated May 2004 to include the article on the 'Martin' family)

(Updated February 2012)

(Updated May 2015 - To include photographs of New Memorial)

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Background Image - Members of Tottenham Civil Defence Corp . Training in Lordship Rec -1940