Shrewsbury House in Bushmoor Crescent, Shooters Hill, SE18 was built for the Earl of Shrewsbury in 1789. In 1800 it was occupied by Princess Charlotte, her mother Caroline and Lady Elgin, her governess. It was variously used as a home for convalescent children (Wyndham Home), in 1900 as a school and in 1925 it was demolished by Douglas Halse J.P. who built the present house.
The house and surrounding land was bought by Woolwich Borough in 1934 and in 1938 a library was opened there. The house was used as a Civil Defence Control Centre throughout the Second World War and into the Cold War until 1968 and it is now used as a community centre.
A rectangular concrete blockhouse was built in the grounds in 1954, opening in March 1955, this was Woolwich Sub Control, reporting to the main Woolwich Borough Control in Southwood Road, New Eltham which had opened the previous year. Both bunkers were identical and were built by the same contractor. From 1965 it became a Sector Post remaining operational until the disbanding of the Civil Defence Corps in 1968.
The building is still in excellent internal and external condition and is used as part of a community centre. At one end of the building there is a covered porch with a door opening directly onto the spine corridor. Most of the rooms have been completely stripped and changed and it is difficult to ascertain their original use. The first room on the right is the plant room and still contains electrical switchgear with the original ventilation plant and trunking in good working order. The standby generator has been removed although a concrete plinth on the floor indicates it’s position. One of the other rooms on the right hand side of the corridor is now used as a photographic darkroom.
At the end on the right is the largest room in the bunker now used as a sports hall and meeting room. This was originally the control room and according to the caretaker was sub-divided with a partition wall. At the back of the room there is a low entrance through the wall. This was the emergency exit. It is now the exhaust for the ventilation system with new trunking passing through the bricked up emergency exit into an original low covered porch at the rear of the bunker.
On the left hand side of the spine corridor the original male and female toilets are still intact and in use although the showers have been taken out of use and boarded over. There is one room accessed from the end of the corridor, this has a secondary entrance into the building.
Behind the Sub Control is a single storey building that originally formed part of the WW2 Civil Defence Control Centre but with a separate entrance in Meresworth Drive. It may have been the first aid post and is now in separate ownership having been converted into a private house. A large WW2 decontamination centre still stands a quarter of a mile away in Plum Lane, opposite Shrewsbury Park. This consists of a single storey irregularly shaped brick building which has now been converted into flats.
Those taking part in the visit were Nick Catford and Keith Ward.
- Keith Ward