Search

The bullet-riddled Ilford bridge still standing 70 years on

PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 April 2017

Local historian Ray Lewis on the railway footbridge connecting Ley Street with the High Road which was hit by German aircraft bullets during WWII

Local historian Ray Lewis on the railway footbridge connecting Ley Street with the High Road which was hit by German aircraft bullets during WWII

Archant

As Crossrail looks set to transform the face of Ilford as we know it, there are some who are concerned the heritage of the area is being lost.

Local historian Ray Lewis on the railway footbridge connecting Ley Street with the High Road which was hit by German aircraft bullets during WWIILocal historian Ray Lewis on the railway footbridge connecting Ley Street with the High Road which was hit by German aircraft bullets during WWII

And now, one small iron footbridge between Ilford High Road and Sam’s Green – still bullet-scarred from the Second World War – finds itself in the middle of that debate.

“It’s known as footbridge 151,” says lifelong Ley Street resident Ray Lewis. “And I think it will be a massive shame if Crossrail coming in would lead to some of the unique history it has being lost.”

If you walk across the bridge you can’t help but notice the rusty holes in both sides; jagged little punctures that most would no doubt attribute to years of battling the weather.

But that is not the case.

Local historian Ray Lewis on the railway footbridge connecting Ley Street with the High Road which was hit by German aircraft bullets during WWIILocal historian Ray Lewis on the railway footbridge connecting Ley Street with the High Road which was hit by German aircraft bullets during WWII

Thanks to its location just east of central London, Ilford suffered a great deal under constant attacks from German rockets and V2 rockets between 1941 and 1945.

In March of 1943, a raiding force of 16 Focke-Wulf 190s, acting as fighter bombers, sped up the Thames before coming inland at Barking.

Their target? The Plessey factory sitting directly beside the railway line in the middle of Ilford, where vital electronics were being made to support the war effort.

Little did they know that the electronics factory had already been moved underground to a stretch of the Tube between Leytonstone and Gants Hill.

Local historian Ray Lewis on the railway footbridge connecting Ley Street with the High Road which was hit by German aircraft bullets during WWIILocal historian Ray Lewis on the railway footbridge connecting Ley Street with the High Road which was hit by German aircraft bullets during WWII

As German pilots skimmed over rooftops, they unleashed a withering hail of machine gun fire along the length of the railway, determined to, at the very least, interrupt the allies’ supply lines.

It is not a surprise then, that the corrugated iron footbridge between Ilford High Road and Sam’s Green, which still stands today, bears the marks of that attack.

But now, instead of the boots of air raid wardens and fire marshals, the bridge echoes to the sounds of electrical engineers making their way to and from Crossrail improvement sites along the TfL Rail line that runs below.

At 86 years old Ray is one of a small number of Ilford residents old enough to remember the stories of how the heart of Redbridge made it through the war, and now he is worried that the history of the area might be swept away by the modernising influence of Crossrail.

Local historian Ray Lewis on the railway footbridge connecting Ley Street with the High Road which was hit by German aircraft bullets during WWIILocal historian Ray Lewis on the railway footbridge connecting Ley Street with the High Road which was hit by German aircraft bullets during WWII

“I understand that they need to keep improving the town, but stories like that deserve to be told before they’re gone,” he told the Recorder.

“There will be people walking past those holes every day that have no idea what they are, and I just think that’s a shame.”

1 comment

  • What an interesting article and Redbridge Museum will add photographs of the footbridge to its archive. Readers might like to know that Redbridge Heritage Service in Central Library, Ilford, has a WW2 bomb map showing wartime damage in the borough and that Redbridge Museum has a permanent display about ARP Wardens. The Museum will be covering Crossrail in a forthcoming interactive exhibition about transport for children and families this summer, called 'On the Move' and also in a major exhibition 'Building Ilford Town Centre: 150 Years' which opens in autumn. Redbridge Museum

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    RedbridgeMuseum

    Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Ilford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Ilford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Ilford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Ilford News Stories

Yesterday, 17:37

A burglar who talked his way into people’s homes wearing a police uniform and even handcuffed one of his victims has been jailed for impersonating a police officer.

Yesterday, 13:45

Residents say it is “a miracle” that no one was hurt when a shop was destroyed by a blaze started by an incense stick yesterday.

Yesterday, 12:49

Residents flocked to Ken Aston Square, to celebrate St George’s Day.

Yesterday, 09:40

You might know there will be an general election in June but do you know who to vote for?

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Competitions

Having a brand new kitchen is something that lots of people want but can only dream of. Sadly keeping up to date and making our living spaces as nice as they can be is a costly and incredibly stressful business. Even a fresh coat of paint makes all the difference but isn’t easy or quick.

Who wouldn’t love the chance to go on a shopping spree. Imagine being able to walk into a shop and choose whatever your heart desires without having to worry about how much it costs.

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Ilford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now