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WWII - "Stretcher Fences"

Updated: Nov 1, 2020

Steve Hunnisett takes a break from leading WW2 Walks to write:

RepurposedSecond world war  iron stretchers used to make fencing on council estates
WW2 Stretcher Fence, Charlton, Greenwich

These "Stretcher Fences" were once a common sight across London and were originally constructed by the hundreds of thousands in preparation for the expected mass civilian casualties in any future bombing campaign against London. They were made from tubular steel, with a mesh base on which to place the casualty. The steel handles had the distinctive "kink" in them so as to allow the stretcher to be placed on the ground and easily lifted without grazing the knuckles of the stretcher bearers. They were designed to be easily washed and reused quickly. Fortunately for Londoners, the expected mass casualties (100,000 were expected in the first six months of the war) never materialised and many of the stretchers probably never left storage. At the end of the war, many were recycled to be used as perimeter fences on the new estates being built across the capital and also to replace wrought iron railings which had been sacrificed as part of the war effort. There were once many of these to be seen across London but the examples in Marlborough Lane, Charlton and Watergate/Trevithick Streets in Deptford are the last of these tangible reminders of our wartime past to be seen in the borough.

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