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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

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Blackout Britain 1st September 1939

ARP Warden setting daily blackout timesDarkness falls over Great Britain

BIG Ben plunges into Darkness

It will be 5 years and 123 days before Big Ben lit up again. Everybody was prepared for the worst, but turning the countries lights out finally drove home the reality of war with sweeping blackout restrictions which would be enforced rigorously.

Blackout Big Ben in DarknessAir Raids Were Inevitable

With proven advancements in technology the Air Ministry had warned the risk of air raids was inevitable with high civilian casualties and indiscriminate bombing. This triggered the need to introduce blackout controls with heavy curtains or shutters required on all private residences and commercial premises.

Help from your ARP Warden at a rest centerAir Raid Precautions (ARP) Wardens

Air raid precautions were marshalled by The Air Raid Wardens Service which was formed in 1937 and managed by the local authorities. Its primary duties were to protect civilians from the danger of air raids which involved directing people to shelters, managing sirens, bombing incidents and patrolling for blackout infringements which could lead to a fine or court appearance.

Kerb painting 1939Blackout Precautions Implementation

The blackout created a huge undertaking and manufacturing was stepped up to cope with the extra demand for blackout materials such as fabric and tape. With profiteering an offence and mass production in full swing these items were made affordable and readily available.

There was a mixed bag of problems from the domestic and commercial sectors ranging from the repeated chore of installation to health issue from the the lack of natural light in factories.

Pathways painted during blackout 1940Travel in the Blackout

Getting about in the dark by vehicle was made easier with central white lines painted in the middle of the road along with the kerb edging, lampposts and even livestock failed to escape the brush. Speed limits were reduced to 20mph and pedestrians walked into the traffic wearing or carrying something light in colour or luminous armbands to help minimise pedestrian’s casualties.

 

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