Object Lesson VII
Preparation for War
Careful planning and organisation were undertaken by the Board of Governors and Hospital Officers to protect the patients and the site. Advance planning, with the help of Croydon Council, was undertaken from as early as October 1938, which is nearly a year before war broke out in September 1949.
The Hospital invested in Air Raid Precaution (ARP) equipment including hurricane lamps, gas masks, de-contamination outfits, sandbags, stirrup pumps, buckets, serge material for blinds and blackout curtaining for all the windows (1,120 curtains needed). Governors considered the use the of paper strips on windows to reduce glass splintering but decided against this as there were 28,000 panes of glass and 13 ¼ miles of paper would be needed.
Coal cellars in many of the buildings were adapted for use as air raid shelters with some gas proofing, improved lighting and air conditioning. Shelters were divided into male and female for both patients and staff. The cellars had bunk beds in them and mattress covers were removed from the wards and stuffed with straw to act as mattresses in the cellars.
Air raid practices were undertaken. On the Hospital site, rattles were sounded to warn of gas and whistles blown as the sign to go to the cellars. The Governors also worked to ensure a good supply of reserve water (24,000 gallons) in case the water mains were damaged.