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Fuller's Beer Cellar

Aged 85 I must be one of the few people, not being in any way a member of Fuller's, who lived "down below" in the Fuller's beer cellar, for several weeks during the war in 1940.

My family lived in Devonshire Gardens, one of the roads which leads off Hartington Road which runs parallel to the River Thames. The River was very popular with German bomber crews as having finished dropping their bombs in central London and the East End, they used it to fly west out of London and then turn south to avoid the Spitfires and Hurricanes which operated from Biggin Hill and other RAF bases in the south east. This meant that Chiswick particularly was heavily bombed as the German planes discharged any leftover bombs.

One night a couple of houses in the adjoining road Kinaird Avenue were bombed and the blast blew off the roof and caused other damage to our house. Aged 7 I was particularly upset that my Hornby train set was squashed by a collapsed ceiling.

My father who was a senior Civil Defence Controller in central London doing 24 hours on and 24 hours off in London for every night of the Blitz was also a senior man in the Scout movement and one of his colleagues had a father who worked for Fuller's and lived in Belle Vue Cottages. As we had to move out of the house while the house was repaired my father's colleague's family offered to put us up during the day in Belle Vue Cottages (although I was at school each day), and then sleep in the brewery beer cellar.

Although I was only 7, I particularly remember one night when the Cherry Blossom boot polish factory (which I believe is not there anymore) had a direct hit and the Air Raid wardens came down and said we had to come out of the cellar as they thought the streams of burning wax and chemicals which were flowing out of the factory might come down into the cellar. We all stood outside in the street watching the flaming wax flowing into the river and the air raid going on above us. With all the guns, searchlights, planes and explosions; a truly amazing sight. And I remember not being the least bit afraid.

Unfortunately this story does not have a particularly happy ending. Our house in Devonshire Gardens was repaired and we moved back in for only about a week when it received a direct hit and I was buried under the rubble for about eight hours before being dug out by the Air Raid Wardens. I was in hospital for about a month with my injuries and now for the first time I really was afraid as lying in bed several floors up with only sandbags on the windows for protection I knew what would happen if the hospital was hit although the nurses and doctors were marvellous as they knew my history. On leaving the hospital I was sent up to the Peak District in Derbyshire to convalesce from my injuries and although I returned to London and remained there for the rest of the V1 and V2 rocket campaigns I never wanted to live in London in the future. Incidentally Staveley Road in Chiswick was where the first V2 ballistic rocket landed and my father as one of the Civil Defence Controllers spread the rumour under strict government orders that the explosion was caused by an exploding gas main. Of course that rumour was scotched when the second one landed a few days later.

Fuller's factory