When you reach number 66 Tooley Street, take a look – and perhaps a double take – towards the sky – yes, your eyes are not deceiving you – that IS a rocket attached to the side of the building. This V2 Rocket, looking to all intents and purposes as if it was sitting on a launch pad, ready for action, publicises one of London’s best kept secrets and is largely overlooked by the travelling populace rushing to work. Below this relic of the Second World War, a sign directs you to the “Air Raid Shelter” – and by following the arrow, to the Winston Churchill’s, Britain at War Experience.
Once inside, a lift transports you back in time to a London Underground air raid shelter as it might have looked in the 1940’s. Greeted by a young girl and her pet you walk past bunks of sleeping Londoners, taking safe haven from the bombing raids overhead.
The soft tones of Vera Lynn and the inspirational voice of Winston Churchill draw you in to watch footage voiced by letters home.
To the right is a mock up of a canteen, paying true homage to the English stiff upper lip – “when in doubt brew up.”
Having watched the powerful and emotional footage, you stroll through to the museum with wax works and artefacts designed to give a true sense of what it must have been like in 1940’s Southwark – gas masks, ration books – it’s all here factually presented and realistically portrayed. Even this inspirational chap below makes an appearance…
Looks familiar? It’s Winston of course. Having had a feel for civilian life a scene from the mess hall completes the tour.
However, this is not the end. Take the stairs from the mess hall to the blitz: a picture perfect scene from war torn Tooley Street. Rubble smoulders on the ground, wardens and firemen rescue women from burning buildings, sirens sound the alert and the bombers can be heard over head.
A truly inspiring way to spend an afternoon and a very evocative WW2 experience. Prices start at GBP14.50 for adults.
Contributor: Alexandra Pinhorn
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