Rare Second World War bomb shelter sign obliterated by blundering workmen in Deptford

Very pleased to see that the graffiti on the WWII bomb shelter sign by the edge of @DeptfordMktYard has been cleaned. 75+ years of history preserved! 😊 pic.twitter.com/6oW8jL3dIv— Deptford Society (@deptfordsociety) July 16, 2018 A rare Second World War “ghost” bomb shelter sign has been obliterated by blundering workmen who painted over the London landmark.The sign in Deptford, south-east London, which dates back more than 70 years, survived the Luftwaffe’s bombs during the Blitz, but was covered over in bright black and white paint last week by contractors working for a property developer.The ghost sign, the name given to faded advertisements or government warning often painted by hand on brickwork, is located in the Deptford Market Yard development and is believed to be one of just a handful of bomb shelter signs still in existence.Contractors working for developer U+I painted over the sign in error last week while maintaining the development of flats, shops and restaurants, which opened in 2016 and includes a Grade II listed railway structure dating back to 1835 and 14 arches used as an air raid shelters from 1939 onwards.Ironically, the bomb shelter sign had only recently been carefully restored by Lewisham Council after it was ‘tagged’ with red paint by vandals. Peter Collins, chair of the Deptford Society, a local group working to preserve the area’s heritage, said: “After reporting graffiti on the air raid shelter ghost sign to the council, we had been thrilled at their swift action to repair the sign which they did in an incredibly sensitive way; removing the red spray paint whilst respecting the fact that the sign is now over 70 years old. We are truly dismayed at finding, just a few days later, that the sign has been fully repainted as if new, rather than a treasured piece of local history.” Local tour guide Sean Patterson, who leads history walks in the area, said he was saddened by the graffiti, though he accepted that in order to preserve history, “we need to restore sometimes”. “For my money, the issue here is not restoration, after all these wonderfully evocative signs will disappear for future generations if they are not maintained, but how well it is done.”The problem here is,” he said, “that it’s been done rather clumsily.” He added: “We are shocked at this utter disregard for important wartime history, and we are more concerned than ever about the future of other nearby ghost signs, which are only one coat of paint away from destruction.” A ghost sign advertising Lipton Tea adjacent to the development had previously been painted over with a bright-red advertisement for the new market, one of many new sites turning the former dockyard area into one of London’s latest “foodie” hotspots.Local councillor Brenda Dacres said it was appalled the bomb shelter sign had been painted over after it had been restored by council workers and that it was ” inconceivable that someone would think it acceptable to authorise painting over” the signs.She said: “Part of the charm of Deptford are ghost signs such as this. Whoever arranged for the sign to be pained over does not appear to have any appreciation of Deptford’s historic past, which many in the community are very proud of.” A spokesperson for U+I, said: “The heritage of Deptford Market Yard is important to us and great care and attention has been taken to ensure the sign remains in place. This is a clearly an unfortunate mistake by the work crew in question and we will be rectifying this as a priority.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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