Bill Brandt’s Underground Shelter Photographs from November 1940

Not long after the Blitz began the Ministry of Information commissioned Bill Brandt to photograph the air-raid shelters. The pictures were sent to Washington in an attempt to bring America into the war.

Cyril Connolly published Brandt’s shelter photographs in Horizon in February 1942. In 1966 Connolly wrote that ‘”Elephant and Castle 3.45 a.m.” eternalises for me the dreamlike monotony of wartime London.’ Brandt himself recalled ‘the long alley of intermingled bodies, with the hot, smelly air and continual murmur of snores’.

West End Book Business Basement Shelter, Bloomsbury Bill Brandt

West End book business basement shelter, Bloomsbury.

East End Wine Merchant's Cellar- A group of Orthodox Jews studying the Talmud by Bill Brandt

East End Wine Merchant's Cellar Bill Brandt

A shelter in a trusting East End wine merchant’s cellar.

 

Two children sleep on a bench in a trench shelter by Bill Brandt

Two children sleep on a bench in a trench shelter, their mother has tied rope to stop them falling onto the wet floor.

Shelterers knit and chat on their steel bunks in this North London air raid shelter by Bill Brandt

Shelterers knit and chat on their steel bunks in this North London air raid shelter.

East End Wine Merchant's Cellar- A group of Orthodox Jews studying the Talmud Bill Brandt

East End Wine Merchant’s Cellar- A group of Orthodox Jews studying the Talmud.

Shelterers sleep on the benches which line the wall of this London trench shelter by Bill Brandt

Shelterers sleep on the benches which line the wall of this London trench shelter.

 

Elephant and Castle London Underground Station Shelter

Elephant and Castle London Underground Station Shelter.

Elephant and Castle Underground Station Shelter with train by Bill Brandt

Elephant and Castle Underground Station Shelter.

Elephant and Castle Underground Station Shelter close up by Bill Brandt

Elephant and Castle Underground Station Shelter

Elephant and Castle Underground Station Shelter by Bill Brandt

Elephant and Castle Underground Station Shelter

Shelterers knit and chat on their steel bunks in this North London air raid shelter Bill Brandt

Shelterers knit and chat on their steel bunks in this North London air raid shelter.

The above photos are courtesy of the Imperial War Museum and can be found here.