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Wartime mystery scene

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Helen F
Warrington
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1 of 57  Sun 18th Nov 2018 1:31pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:1642

I've looked at every BFA picture dozens of times over but I still see something I've not spotted before. But talking of mystery images. I've never located this one but it does look like it could be Coventry. My guess is that this isn't looking at the back of a road, with the other side in the distance, but at one side of a court, with another court, running parallel. The telegraph/electricity poles tended to be in back yards, not on the main roads. It's a real tough one and I may identify the distant buildings first. Edited by member, 18th Nov 2018 1:44 pm
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Prof
Gloucester
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2 of 57  Sun 18th Nov 2018 4:13pm  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:1125

Could it be Spon St Helen? LH building larger, 3 storey? Or Much Park St or Little or even Gosford St.
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Wearethemods
Aberdeenshire
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3 of 57  Mon 19th Nov 2018 10:21am  
Member: Joined Jun 2013  Total posts:433

Interesting photo insomuch that sadly the sheets would be hiding human remains waiting to be collected, and secondly it would appear that there are no 'uniforms' on the scene, ie police, stretcher bearers, wardens and suchlike. Thirdly, the amount of males 'civvies' in the picture which is surprising.
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Helen F
Warrington
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4 of 57  Mon 19th Nov 2018 11:05am  
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The photo is believed to be from bomb damage but I have wondered if it was from before the war. A gas explosion? It's sad that it isn't labelled, but that might point back to it being the war, when so many died it was hard to collect details of the lost families. The number of ununiformed men might be that it was near some business that was protected because of importance to the war or basic need (eg munitions factory or power station). Part of me doesn't want to identify it because I don't want someone coming looking for their relatives' home and connect it to this picture. Most of us have relatives who died in the wars but we wouldn't want to see a photograph. Edited by member, 19th Nov 2018 11:13 am
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Annewiggy
Tamworth
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5 of 57  Mon 19th Nov 2018 12:07pm  
Member: Joined Jan 2013  Total posts:1560

How about this one Helen. August 1934, Court 14 Gosford Street. A man came home on his motorbike and put it in the building with another one. He switched off the fuel but then he set his motorcycle alight probably by stepping on a match. Someone threw a bucket of water over it and exploded, blowing out the gable end of the building and cracking the brick walls. Windows of the neighbouring houses were broken. Crowds came to the scene. Assistance was given to the injured at the spot. Ambulances and fire engines rushed to the spot but the fire engines were not used. You will have more idea as to whether this could be the houses in the background. Another possibility is IRA bombings. There were several in 1939 but none seem to have caused much damage apart from the Broadgate one. It does not seem a war time one as commented as no one is wearing a tin hat!
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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6 of 57  Mon 19th Nov 2018 3:04pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3127

Helen. I would suggest the clothes are more thirties then forties, the explosion looks in the backyard shed, someone messing with something they know little about. Why no police, or gas people, or have they been and gone? Even for the thirties that's one hell of an explosion. They look as if they are thinking what went wrong? Helen, I cannot see it being a wartime scene. I can't help wondering how you came across such a photo?
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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7 of 57  Mon 19th Nov 2018 4:22pm  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3127

Helen F I remember about Warrington and explosives - just wondered if you found some old photo connected to a group that was connected who had a mishap in their own home town killing three people?
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Helen F
Warrington
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8 of 57  Mon 19th Nov 2018 4:35pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:1642

Some interesting suggestions there. The picture crops up periodically and can be seen at the Mirrorpix site. That says Rescue workers seen here holding sheets to hide the recovery of bodies from a bombed house near the centre of Coventry. 15th November 1940 but as we already know that site is a bit dodgy for labelling. But it also says the picture is from the Daily Mirror, so it might be correct, unlike some of the others that were brought in from other papers. I checked out Anne's idea and it has merit. There is even a stretch of buildings that are demolished after 1934 in court 14 which was behind the Blue Pig. However I can't see the buildings in the distance so I reluctantly have to conclude that it's not there. A copy of the photo without a watermark is at the Bygone Spon Street site but it doesn't attribute a location. It looks like a lot of places but I can't find the key arrangements of buildings. I will spend a bit longer looking at the aerial photos to see if I can get a match.
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
argon
new milton
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9 of 57  Mon 19th Nov 2018 6:38pm  
Member: Joined Jun 2016  Total posts:238

Looking at the houses opposite it looks as if all the tiles have been displaced by a mighty explosion, which does suggest wartime. I looked in the newspaper archives and only found three cases where walls collapsed in the right time scale. Queen Street post war and Cook Street pre war and a house used as a warehouse in Silver Silver pre war. The Queen Street collapse was during demolition so maybe the houses opposite were having the tiles removed too.
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Helen F
Warrington
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10 of 57  Mon 19th Nov 2018 8:51pm  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:1642

Thanks Argon, that helped narrow it down. Ok, I have found the location of the photo and it is a particularly sad story. It was Spon Street after the bombing and tragically at least six people died from this damage. The rubble is from The Plough Inn on the corner of Queen Victoria Road and the Real Ale Rambles site states that the place suffered a direct hit killing he proprietor, Lilly Potter and five others. I agree with Kaga that the clothing looked earlier but that may just reflect the relatively poor area. The half timbered rear building on the right of the photo is still there behind number 10. You can view it from the car park that sits on what was Queen Victoria Road. Despite the optical illusion in the photo, the buildings directly to the left of number 10 are not attached and were behind number 11. The two in the background are now under Ikea. The reason I couldn't identify it is that the other side looks quite different. The taller of the two was an early ribbon factory. All the buildings to the left of the photo have been removed. Edited by member, 20th Nov 2018 10:11 am
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
NeilsYard
Coventry
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11 of 57  Tue 20th Nov 2018 9:18am  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2330

Great detective work, Helen Thumbs up
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Prof
Gloucester
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12 of 57  Tue 20th Nov 2018 9:59am  
Member: Joined Jul 2014  Total posts:1125

Yes Helen, wonderful research! Lily Potter? Makes me think of comedian Gilly Potter who was so scathing about the destruction of Butcher Row in Coventry. Perhaps related?
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Helen F
Warrington
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13 of 57  Tue 20th Nov 2018 10:20am  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:1642

Thanks Neil. Prof, could be, though by marriage. The last licencee is listed as E C Potter so I'm guessing Lilly was his wife. Poor man. The place looked like a hotel so the other victims could have been guests?
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Kaga simpson
Peacehaven, East Sussex
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14 of 57  Tue 20th Nov 2018 10:45am  
Member: Joined Sep 2014  Total posts:3127

Helen F Just spent a few minutes looking at that photo. Yes, the scale of the damage looks from a larger explosion than first thought, but still does not look like a wartime picture - about 14 males, not one sign of any kind of uniform, or defence, not a shred of blackout, no sign of authority, and bodies were not left just behind a curtain. No one seems upset or doing anything really constructive - no, it is unlike any wartime scene I ever saw. Even the chimney pots look out of place. Plus more trilbies than caps, not a Coventry scene at all. But I have no answer neither, so?
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene
Helen F
Warrington
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15 of 57  Tue 20th Nov 2018 11:36am  
Member: Joined Mar 2013  Total posts:1642

I agree with you Kaga, it doesn't look of the right period. I'd convinced myself that it wasn't the war before I asked about it. But now I'm sure, having found the correct line of sight, that it is the Plough and neighbouring buildings on Spon Street. The pictures below are what convinced me. The left hand side is a zoomed portion of the photo. The right is a zoomed in sectio of the following Britain From Above page. Zoom in to the corner of Victoria Road (right of St John's) and the buildings are a bit up and to the right Features are: Similar arrangments of chimneys Larger right hand window than left on the upper floor electricity/telegraph pole Three roofs with the right slopes including the building closer to the scene.
Wartime and the Blitz - Wartime mystery scene

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