War Effort That Misfired

The Evening Standard – 24-05-1984

The following letter to London's Evening Standard was in response to an article on the impending replacement of magnificent railings in Ennismore Gardens, London. The original railings were among thousands of tons of decorative ironwork and railings removed from London's streets, supposedly for re-cycling into munitions and the war effort. It now seems certain that the collection of aluminium pots, pans, railings and other metals during the war was largely a propaganda exercise intended to give blitzed civilians a feeling of having contributed to the war effort and the opportunity to 'hit back' at Germany. Metals such as aluminium and copper were indeed scarce and were presumably re-cycled. Metals such as cast iron were of little value and were frequently – and secretly – dumped!

By Christopher Long

Letters to the Editor
The Evening Standard

I was interested in your item about the railings which are to be replaced in Ennismore Gardens. The tragedy is that so many of London's railings were pulled down in order to support Britain's war effort, bearing in mind that they never became the guns and tanks they were intended for.

In fact I believe that many hundreds of tons of scrap iron and ornamental railings were sent to the bottom in the Thames Estuary because Britain was unable to process this ironwork into weapons of war.

Christopher Long
Earl's Court Square,
Earl's Court, London SW5.

This information came from dockers in Canning Town in 1978 who had worked during the war on 'lighters' that were towed down the Thames estuary to dump vast quantities of scrap metal and decorative ironwork. They claimed that so much was dumped at certain spots in the estuary that ships passing the area needed pilots to guide them because their compasses were so strongly affected by the quantity of iron on the sea-bed.

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