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Blackheath Can Take It! Exploring wartime Blackheath

Commemorating the 80th anniversary of the start of World War ll, local historian Neil Rhind, MBE FSA, will tell the story of how Blackheath residents were caught up in the conflict and suffered from the bombing and V2 rocket attacks.

Schools were evacuated, churches destroyed, large house requisitioned. Ackack batteries, searchlight stations and barrage balloon depots took over the Heath and the Kidbrook farms. Neil will report on how Blackheath managed to cope. Our Society holds considerable images in the archive collection but anything local residents can provide, such as old postcards and family snapshots, will be gratefully received and fully acknowledge. Please contact the Society Office.

The illustrated talk is followed by a screening of Listen to Britain by Humphrey Jennings.

This is a joint event with The Friends of the Halls, to be held in the Recital Room at the Halls, tickets are £10 including a glass of wine, available from The Halls Box Office, 020 8463 0100.

All the seats were taken in anticipation to hear how Blackheathians survived the outbreak of war, they were not disappointed. Neil Rhind described how preparations had been going on for some time before 1939. Blackheath was used as a depot for munitions, barrage balloons and other supplies. Neil showed images of a rural Blackheath, he had pictures of Kidbrooke Farm, meadows and a wonderful farmer in his potato field behind Heathfield House in Eliot Vale.

At the outbreak of war their were 14 churches in the local area by the end only 8 remained. We heard how many schools were evacuated, some not to return. The Heath was dug with Trenches but the pre fabs, that some remember were actually erected at the end of the war. Neil showed the wreckage of the Paragon and other historic local houses. The restoration of which at times depended on local endeavour rather than the authorities. We were saddened to learn that the V2 rocket that damaged so much of the village fell just 6 weeks before the end of the war. Neil recalled helping with the great sweeping up of glass that followed. Blackheath received a royal visit, to the WVS who were based at Heathfield House. Watching the film LISTENING TO BRITAIN it was apparent how very noisy the war must have been. This point was made again during the question session at the end of the evening when one of the audience who was a child at the time recollected the night time raids.

It was a most interesting evening. As many wished to attend but were unable to get a ticket, Neil plans to present a similar talk again next year.

Earlier Event: July 10
Meet and Eat at the Hare and Billet
Later Event: September 5
Meet & Eat at the Hare and Billet