Image - st-leonards-air-raid-shelter

Environment Trust, an environment and heritage charity in South West London, is running two events to tie in with the 80th anniversary of the start of World War Two in September, which will shine a light on how ordinary people in Richmond, Mortlake and East Sheen were affected by the war.

The first is the opening of St Leonards Air Raid Shelter in Palmers Road, East Sheen with the support of Mortlake with East Sheen Society on 22nd September, as part of Open House London. The shelter is one of the best preserved and evocative shelters in South West London having been almost untouched since the end of WW2. People can enjoy a free tour in small groups between 1pm and 5pm.

The shelter was first constructed in 1939 for the protection of the residents of St Leonards Court from aerial attack and protected residents from the Blitz in 1940-41, flying bombs in 1944 and then V2 rockets in 1944-5. Visitors will learn about the build up to the start of the war, the growing tensions across Europe that led to the demand to construct air raid precautions across the country, and life on the home front during the Blitz.

Following this Environment Trust is hosting a lecture entitled, St Leonards Court at War 1939-1945 on 15th October from 6.30pm with noted local historian Simon Fowler, author of Richmond at War, talking about what the war was like for the residents of St Leonards Court as they hid in the shelter.

Simon will discuss how the war affected ordinary people, the reasons that such shelters were built, and the experiences of people who used them. In addition, he will discuss the air raids that took place in the area, the role that Richmond Park played in the war effort, and what it was like to grow up in Richmond during the War.

Emily Lunn, Environment Trust Heritage Project Manager said, “Open House is a wonderful opportunity to find out about the history on your doorstep, and this year we’re delighted to open up St Leonards air raid shelter once again. September is the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of WW2 and it’s fitting to give people the rare chance to go into a shelter and see what life was like during war time.

We follow this in October with a lecture from a wonderful local historian, Simon Fowler, who will share some fascinating insights and stories from this period. For those that visit the shelter this will have even greater impact, as they will have experienced first-hand what it’s like being in an air raid shelter. We hope those interested in history and their local area will show their support and come along to both events.”

Tickets for the St Leonards Court at War 1939-1945 lecture on 15th October are £12 for members of the public and £10 for Environment Trust members. This includes a glass of wine on arrival. The lecture takes place at Vestry Hall, 21 Paradise Road, Richmond. Doors open at 6.30pm for a 7pm start.

For more information and to buy tickets visit:

As well as St Leonards Air Shelter, Environment Trust will also have Open House events at Kilmorey Mausoleum in St Margarets, Sir Richard Burton’s Mausoleum in Mortlake and Grove Garden Chapel in Richmond. For more information visit

For more information about Environment Trust, including projects and forthcoming events visit