During the Second World War the City suffered appalling damage and loss of life. The Cripplegate area was virtually demolished and by 1951 the resident population stood at only 48, with 5,324 in the whole City.
Discussions started in 1952 on what sort of redevelopment should take place on the devastated site. Many people involved with the City of London voiced their concern at the dwindling number of residents living within the Square Mile and plans were considered for returning a stable population. A report was presented and the Court of Common Council, of 19 September 1957, accepted as a matter of policy that there should be a genuine residential area created on the site.
The Barbican site, which covers 40 acres, had more or less been gratuitously cleared by bombing but there was still much work to be done.
New sites had also to be found for the electricity sub-station which had been situated in what is now Beech Street and also for the Fire Station.
This wide clearance gave many unusual opportunities to simplify the maintenance of the essential services to the Barbican. All of the electricity cables, the telephone wires, fringe and Garchey waste disposal systems are routed through three miles of underground passages, easily and quickly accessible when repairs are needed.
It was necessary to cover over the railway between Barbican and Moorgate stations. The line was straightened and a double roof installed affording a large air gap to assist noise insulation.