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UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register

London County Council's Second World War bomb damage map of Finsbury

​London County Council's Second World War bomb damage map of the Finsbury area.

​The London County Council’s iconic series of Second World War Bomb Damage maps has been added to the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register. The UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register is an online catalogue created to help promote the UK’s documentary heritage across the United Kingdom and the world. The register is part of a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) programme to support and raise awareness of archives.  Howard Doble tells more.

Ranging from the Domesday Book to Hitchcock's Silent Films, the 2012 submissions span nearly 900 years, come from across the country, and embody pivotal moments in the history of their communities and the UK as a whole.

The award to London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) was presented to Laurence Ward, Principal Archivist by the Mayor of Tamworth, Cllr John Garner and Chair of the UK Memory of the World Committee, David Dawson, at a ceremony held in the historic Council Chamber of Tamworth Town Hall on 9 July 2013.

The Bomb Damage Maps were annotated extensively with the use of colour keys by the Architects Department of the London County Council to indicate, building by building, bomb damage in London during the Second World War. This is the most detailed record of damage to the capital’s built environment caused by aerial bombardment. An iconic and multi-layered source for London’s experience of war and its aftermath, it conveys complex survey data in the tradition of Leake’s Great Fire map, Milne’s land use map, Mylne’s geological maps and Booth’s poverty maps.

Used frequently by architects, surveyors, town planners and local and family historians seeking information on the precise degree of damage suffered by properties across the 117 square miles of the London Region 1940-1945, the maps are a symbol of Londoners’ resilience in adversity and highlight the enormous effort and forethought of the London County Council to serve London and Londoners in their ‘hour of need’. Used by Patrick Abercrombie and John Henry Forshaw in drawing up the County of London Plan (1943) and the Greater London Plan (1944) to rebuild the capital in the post-war period, the maps are a key source for studies of post-war town planning in London and the UK.

The winners were chosen by the expert committee of the UK Memory of the World programme following a nomination and review process which began in 2012. David Dawson, Chair of the UK Memory of the World Committee said “This year’s inscriptions reflect the richness of UK culture and history, from medieval manuscripts to ground breaking cinema. We hope that… [they] will encourage people to discover these items and collections, as well as some of the other great documentary heritage near them.”

Visit the UNESCO website to find out more about the UK memory of the World Register and the winners.

The Bomb Damage maps are available for consultation at LMA as colour facsimile copies available from the Information Area. Digital copies are also available on our ‘Magnifying the Metropolis’ application in our Mediatheque area.

15 October 2013
Last Modified:
12 September 2018