Residents are celebrating success in their campaign to have one of London’s best surviving Second World War defences, preserved for the future. LINDA PIPER finds out more.

AS German bombs rained down on London during the Second World War, Britain’s Anti-aircraft Command (AC) attempted to protect the capital with a ring of anti-aircraft batteries.

Now one of the best preserved, built on Crayford Marshes, has just become a Grade II listed building following a campaign by local people.

Trying to prevent the German bombers from reaching London was such a high priority, the AC employed nearly 300,000 people at its peak, in addition to the Home Guard and the women of the Auxillary Territorial Service.

A series of heavy anti-aircraft (HAA) batteries were built to house the large guns whose job was to engage the high-flying enemy bomber planes as they flew towards London with their deadly cargo.

The Slade Green battery was the most easterly of London’s inner artillery zone and, situated just south of the River Thames, played an important role in the early stages of any attack on London from the east as well as protecting the Vickers-Armstrong armaments factory in Crayford.

Most likely built in the late 1930s, the battery consisted of a series of buildings, many of which have survived remarkably intact.

Made from brick and reinforced concrete, the battery includes a command post with four gun emplacements, two defensive pillboxes to protect the site, an air raid shelter and an emplacement for an anti-aircraft Bofors gun.

Unlike many of the surviving HAA batteries, the Slade Green one has managed to retain a number of its original fixtures.

Unknown to each other, two groups in Bexley had realised the importance of the battery to local history and both had approached Bexley Council for help in protecting it by getting it listed.

But Ian Lindon from the Crayford Business and Community Forum said both the forum’s request and another from Albion Residents’ Association in Bexleyheath, fell on deaf ears.

So the groups decided to join forces and approach English Heritage themselves.

Mr Lindon said: “I had seen the battery several times when visiting the marshes and realised it was one of the last remaining ones in good condition.

“We had been trying for at least five years to get the council interested, but all we kept getting was platitudes and no action.

“Then we found out that Albion Residents’ Association had been doing the same.

“So we joined forces and kept on at English Heritage.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which has responsibility for listing buildings, asked English Heritage to inspect the battery and make its recommendation on whether or not the buildings were worth listing.

Bexley Council says it also wrote a letter of support and supplied the department with aerial photographs and other information.

Now both groups have now been notified by the department their application for listing has been successful.

The site is on land currently owned by Russell Stoneham Estates which plans to gift it to the London Wildlife Trust for a nature reserve.

Mr Lindon said the groups now hoped to get funding to restore the battery so it can be used as an educational resource for local schools.