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Air Raid Precautionary, City of Westminster Engineer (ARP)

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Corporate body

Authorized form of name

Air Raid Precautionary, City of Westminster Engineer (ARP)

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Description area

Dates of existence

1936-

History

In August 1936, the Home Office of the British Government directed every municipality in Britain to develop an Air Raid Precautionary (ARP) programme, primarily to establish and maintain air raid shelters for the local population in the event of war. The Westminster City Council (WCC) in London instructed the Westminster City Engineer’s Office forthwith to begin programme responsibilities including the following: in 1937 and early 1938 to establish criteria and policy relevant to ARP activities, and develop voluntary cooperation with local commercial businesses; in 1938 and 1939 to survey the basements of all residential and commercial buildings within the Westminster City boundaries for their suitability or potential modification as shelters; to supervise the modification of basements to provide basement shelters in commercial buildings, and to provide ongoing maintenance, signage and hours of opening; to decide upon criteria for requisitioning or decommissioning a shelter, and to supervise all inspections of such shelters, also to undertake ARP matters not directly related to shelters, but of engineering concern.

During World War II the Engineer’s Office was damaged by enemy action in March 1940, and the office was moved from Alhambra House to Fanum House until September 1945. The City Engineer’s Office was responsible for furnishing, staffing, modification and operation of the temporary headquarters. Formal decommissioning of air raid shelters began on 30 May 1945, but matters concerning the former shelters routinely reached the office until the mid-1950s. With the commencement of the Cold War, the City Engineer’s Office also was prepared to redo the survey of basements. A few completed forms from this survey are extant, reaching into the 1960s.

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Description identifier

RC0284

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Status

Draft

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2015-06-11

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Maintenance notes

A. Wilson