Ken Stewart wrote in to ask:
“My father who used to frequent the Moulders [Bromley High Street, E3] told me the old flats opposite going down to near the Seven Stars, their metal fencing was made from War time stretchers. Was he winding me up?”
Only a few weeks before I’d walked past some stretcher railings south of the Bow Road. This afternoon I tried to remember the route and zigzagged across the area with my camera. I found them at the junction of Devons Road and Watts Grove. They run past Bilberry House and Bramble House. This is an LCC Estate which was there before the war. They would have lost their railings to the war effort. Upcycling the stockpile of stretchers afterwards was innovative.
So to answer to Ken’s question – it’s highly likely that they were stretchers used in the Blitz.
I think it’s great that odd bits of our history are still to be found on the streets.
600,000 of these stretchers were manufactured before WW2 in anticipation of mass air raid casualties. Back home I discovered there’s a map of the stretcher railings in London.
Does anybody remember the stretcher railings that were in Bromley by Bow on the High Street?
Update 26th April:
Today I printed out the Bromley High Street page from a 1960 copy of the London Post Office Directory and walked back there armed with a Geographers’ map of the streets from the late 1960s. Bit by bit this area has changed and I struggled to remember where things were.
The Blue Anchor was listed at 67 Bromley High Street, but the block of 72 flats which has replaced it, Jolles House, says it’s No.90 on the brass plate by the door.
Jolles House sits between Baxter House and Corbin House which are still here, with different types of railings. On this second trip searching for stretcher railing I still drew a blank.
Across the road Ballinger Point occupies the site of the Moulders’ Arms – with nice modern curving railings.
I’m of the belief that we should move on, but it’s still great to sometimes catch glimpses of a very different past.