Home News VIEWPOINT: A reflection on VE Day 1945

Today is an opportunity for the Nation to look back and reflect on the collaborative efforts of people from across the globe who came together to tackle the challenge of a crisis.

We are only seven weeks in the current coronavirus crisis, which is a massive challenge in itself and one that is demanding a collective response to deal with and then begin rebuilding.

But back in 1945 the Nation had had to endure five years of bombing of  towns and cities. More that 60,000 civilians were killed and 86,000 seriously injured. Rationing of food began and virtually every household item was either in short supply and had to be queued for, or was unobtainable.

Hospitals, homes and shops that suffered damage were repaired and rebuilt. There were also many examples of ingenuity and innovation from the world of construction. The Bailey Bridge was first introduced in 1941 and the mammoth prefabricated Mulberry Dock structures were an integral component of the D-Day  landings.

Women also replaced men in traditional occupations and around 25,000 women were working in construction towards the end of the Second World War. Some were vital during the process of building of the iconic structures around the country, including Waterloo Bridge in London.

VE Day found Britain exhausted and in poor shape, but very proud of its unique role in gaining the Allied Forces victory.

After the end of World War II, cities across the UK were in desperate need of large-scale rebuilding. As ever after a period of destruction, architects and planners saw the opportunity for remodelling.

Urban planners, such as Patrick Abercrombie, devised schemes to reconstruct cities. Cities including Birmingham, Coventry, Plymouth and Southampton were transformed from their pre-war days.

Concrete cubism evolved from prefabs and 1950s tower blocks replaced traditional street terraces after bomb damage and provide much needed housing. Contractors took on the challenge and saw the rise of estates such as Lansbury in East London and Loughborough in South London.

New businesses also evolved and grew. JCB was established in 1945 and the Gosling brothers created National Car Parks on vacant bomb damaged sites. Coventry Scaffolding was named by its founders to recognise the damage sustained by the City of Coventry.

In today’s climate, once again collective effort will see the Nation through this crisis and then being opening up the economy. Established businesses will grow, some will disappear but new ones will arrive.

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