By now I imagine every Londoner who’s remotely interested in the subject has seen the extraordinary website ‘Bomb Sight’, which maps all the bombs that fell on London during the Blitz.
It seems everyone who lived through it has a story about a bomb falling near them; a neighbour or relative who heard something overhead and either turned or continued across the road, making a life or death decision.
The new project maps the bombs that fell in London between July 10, 1940 and June 6, 1941. Exploring the app,you can see just how often they hit: very few areas were spared, and some locations can barely be seen for red dots. Walking around the streets, it’s still easy to see where the bombs fell. There are very few streets that don’t have an ugly sixties building stuck on the site of a lost house. Many more bombs fell for years after the period we term ‘the Blitz’ of course, but this was the densest concentration.
After the war, virtually every house and church tower with a crack in it was pulled down, and London rebuilt itself as it had so often before. If you go to Gdansk in Poland, you’ll see streets reconstructed to appear exactly how they looked before the war – we did the opposite, for better or worse, and part of me wishes that the old layouts had remained. London would have had an ‘Old Town’ like so many cities in Europe, and the philistine developers would not have got away with so many crooked deals struck with councils. But you can’t live in a theme park, and perhaps the city’s survival is partly down to its ability to renew itself constantly.
You can visit the site here.