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Spring has sprung on Clapham Common

"Spring has sprung, even here in the heart of south London."

Mr Dixon, property owner at our London retirement village - Audley Nightingale Place in Clapham - appreciates the beauty and history of the area and kindly shared this beautiful photo and historical insight.

The daffodils are out on Clapham Common, but there's something equally interesting lurking in the background...

That rather drab circular drum structure is in fact a shaft leading to the large underground bomb shelters constructed during the Second World War. These proved particularly useful during the closing stages of the war, when V1s and V2s rained down.

Rather less well known is the fact that many of the migrants who arrived on board the Empire Windrush in 1948 were housed here for a short while, whilst suitable accommodation was found for them.

Later still, the shelter was used for billeting troops, as hotel accommodation for the Festival of Britain in 1951, and for visitors to the Coronation.

The shelters are part of the Clapham South station on the Northern Line, the entrance to which is adjacent to Audley Nightingale Place. You can find out more information about the Balham Hill Clapham "Drum" at www.ww2drum.com

The London Transport Museum regularly gives guided tours of the shelters, which are physically beneath the underground station itself. With the lockdown, these tours have now become virtual tours, and are most interesting. The tours do sell out very quickly, and the best way to book and get ahead of the crowd is to become a Friend of the Museum to be sent advance notice of forthcoming tours.

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Read more historical stories from around our retirement villages.