Studying war damage to inform safer building construction

Francis Walley joined the Research Section of the Ministry of Home Security in 1941, where he worked for four years, studying the effects of air raid bombardments in northern France and the UK.

His collection of papers at the Institution of Civil Engineers include photographs of war damage which were studied to determine the effects of bombing in order to improve buildings.

Steel framed buildings

This photograph shows the sea-front café at Cromer in Norfolk on 11th July 1940:

“Direct hit by 50kg bomb on small flat roofed café, the front of which was carried on steel stanchions and the back on a load-bearing brick wall. The latter collapsed letting down the roof, whereas the steel stanchions stood up. Illustrates the desirability of complete framing”

Incendiary devices

This photograph of Hammond’s department store in Hull on 8th May 1941, shows the:

“collapse of front of fire-gutted steel framed building due to buckling of unprotected compound steel stanchions”.

This photograph of a swimming pool in King’s Alley, Exeter, “a building with ‘nothing to burn’ illustrates the danger of a roof with combustible lining.

Blast damage

This photograph shows Datchet House, Augustus Street NW1:

“Damage to these flats with load bearing walls was caused by a parachute mine which fell in a concrete yard adjacent to them.”

A similar example at Pancras Square, Platt Street, St Pancras, 16th – 17th April 1941:

Northumberland Wharf, Brentford:

“When a 1,000kg bomb fell on the reinforced-concrete framed building on the right of this photograph, a single storey factory building with brick load bearing wall, on the opposite side of the canal, was severely damaged by blast”.

After the War, Walley became the Technical Secretary to the Standard Flats Committee.  The steel shortage required innovative new designs and Walley went to Europe to look at the development of pre-stressed concrete.

He went on to work with the National Building Research Station, Hydraulics Research Station and Transport and Road Research Laboratory.

All images from the ICE Archive; ICE 1826, 1186 and 1446.