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Serpenthydra
Coventry
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1 of 37  Sat 7th Jan 2012 9:47am  
Member: Joined Jan 2012  Total posts:2

Hello all, As you may have guessed I'm new, just joined yesterday in fact (6.1.2012) as per Rob's suggestion. I'm researching a novel, part of which takes place during the Coventry Blitz. I ike to be accurate, especially where history is concerned, so I was wondering if anyone knows what the interior of Drapers Hall air raid shelter is like. The building has long since been closed to the public but according to the Coventry Blitz walk experience this air raid shelter may still be intact, with WW2 posters still on the wall! It's probably too much to hope that anyone has any pictures but any words of wisdom/description would be helpful. Thanks, Kit
Drapers Hall
TonyS
Coventry
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2 of 37  Sat 7th Jan 2012 10:31am  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:1550

A very warm WELCOME to you Kit, nice to have you around Wave Wave Wave
Drapers Hall
TonyS
Coventry
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3 of 37  Sat 7th Jan 2012 1:07pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:1550

Not sure if it's any help, but here's a planning application, made by the City Council in 2007, to extend Drapers Hall and change its use. At the bottom of this page there are various downloadable floor plans - including basement. There's no photo's but it may assist your enquiries! Thumbs up Drapers Hall Planning Application
Drapers Hall
Serpenthydra
Coventry
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Thread starter
4 of 37  Mon 9th Jan 2012 1:00am  
Member: Joined Jan 2012  Total posts:2

Thanks for the welcome and the info. Any idea if the Hall would have been in use during the night of the 14th? I mean I can always write as if it was but it's nice if it were actually true.
Drapers Hall
TonyS
Coventry
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5 of 37  Wed 11th Jan 2012 5:24pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:1550

Really sorry, I have no idea - but I'll try and find out and post back here if I discover anything.
Drapers Hall
TonyS
Coventry
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6 of 37  Fri 20th Jan 2012 3:10pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:1550

Sorry it's taken a while. However, some good news! Thumbs up My investigations indicate that in a document dated 4th Sept 1939 which relates to 'Defence Regulations, Regulation 51 (Taking possession of land)' it refers to "the basement of the Drapers' Hall, Bayley Lane, Coventry". Also included in this file is correspondence dated 5 Sep 1939, which states '. .further inspection has since been made of the basement of the Drapers Hall and the City Engineer has decided to utilise the basement at once as an air raid shelter for approximately 200 persons. .' I haven't been able to discover whether it was actually "in use" the night of the blitz, but I'll keep looking! Cheers
Drapers Hall
morgana
the secret garden
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7 of 37  Sat 21st Jan 2012 3:32pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2011  Total posts:2228

Reading some of the history about the town's air raid shelters a lot weren't used because the people didn't trust them, if this helps at all.
Drapers Hall
dutchman
Spon End
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8 of 37  Sat 21st Jan 2012 3:48pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:3000

Warwickshire County Councillor Barry Longden's parents sheltered him in the crypt under the cathedral, despite the proximity of Drapers Hall. They may have thought no-one would ever bomb a cathedral?
Drapers Hall
TonyS
Coventry
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9 of 37  Tue 1st May 2012 5:47pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:1550

For some months now I have been pursuing a contact at the City Council to allow me to have access to the basement of Drapers Hall to take some photos of the old air-raid shelter. I'm extremely pleased to be able to say that it finally happened today; I got to go down in the basement and take a number of photos - a few of which I share below. I'll upload more just as soon as I've spoken to Rob in order to decide the best place for them. Enjoy. Apologies for the quality of some of them, it was in total darkness, with no lighting at all apart from a couple of torches and my camera flash. Steps leading from main building down into the air-raid shelter. This is the "interior" access point, there was also an "outside" doorway leading from the street. Part of the underground matrix of corridors and alcoves. I expected there to be the typical "musty" smell - but strangely there wasn't any. I did get a slight feeling of claustrophobia as I entered the space that would have been occupied by about 200 people on the night of the blitz. The whole of the shelter is a maze of alcoves and small arches, many are now bricked up (with modern brickwork) - although there is no apparent reason for them being so, other than maybe structural. Some of the brickwork has "door-way" sized openings left in them - but no sign of any framework. Much of the shelters ceilings are original (some with early graffiti written in 1923 by R. Lack & J. Liggins who were employees of an electrical company named Marston & Brown!) This section though has been replastered and there are numerous runs of orange covered MI cable. This is probably the largest area in the shelter - complete with a Health Advisory poster still on the wall (and a modern-day piece of plaster board) A closer view of the poster. It appears to have been pasted to the wall - probably making its removal impossible without destroying it completely. ...and a zoomed-in view of a section of it. Many of the other photos are very similar, although I have some wonderful pics of the main hall, kitchen and boiler room that I'd also like to share very soon.
Drapers Hall
PhilipInCoventry
Holbrooks
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10 of 37  Tue 1st May 2012 7:03pm  
Moderator: Joined Apr 2010  Total posts:3972

Hi Tony Wave Hi all. What a feast of photos. Bril!
Drapers Hall
dutchman
Spon End
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11 of 37  Tue 1st May 2012 7:07pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2010  Total posts:3000

Interesting pictures thanks Tony Thumbs up , though I have reservations about its effectiveness as a shelter. It is at least below ground level which would provide considerable protection against sideways blast.
Drapers Hall
Rob Orland
Historic Coventry
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12 of 37  Tue 1st May 2012 8:12pm  
Webmaster: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:1311

Excellent and interesting photos Tony, thank you so much for posting them. I expected the shelter to be much more plain and "square" looking, rather than the intriguing layout that comes across from your pictures. A lovely insight into our relatively recent dark history.
Drapers Hall
NeilsYard
Coventry
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13 of 37  Wed 2nd May 2012 4:06pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:1764

Brilliant! Thumbs up Thanks for sharing with us. Must have been fairly terrifying during a raid.
Drapers Hall
TonyS
Coventry
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14 of 37  Wed 2nd May 2012 4:42pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2011  Total posts:1550

Hi Neil, Yes, I imagine it was. It was bad enough being there yesterday, goodness knows what it would have been like with the building literally shaking as the bombs fell. It didn't feel as though I was very far "underground" (not like maybe a purpose-built shelter might) so as Dutchman mentioned - I doubt it would have offered a great deal of protection had a bomb dropped too close! Anyone recall just how much damage that particular area received during the blitz?
Drapers Hall
Midland Red
Cherwell
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15 of 37  Wed 2nd May 2012 5:28pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:4908

Thanks for the great photos, Tony I often wondered how I might have managed during the war and whether I could cope with going "underground" or whether I would take pot luck outdoors I think your photos have convinced me that I would have preferred the latter!
Drapers Hall

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