The Durning Road Bombing
The air raid shelter deep below the Ernest Brown Junior Instructional Centre in Durning Road was regarded as one of the safest, close to Liverpool’s city centre. That was why the trams were stopped nearby, in Edge Lane, when the air raid sirens sounded, on the night of November 28th, 1940. If people leaving the waterfront and Pier Head were to be kept beyond harm, inside the training centre’s shelter was a better place than most others.
More than 300 people entered the building and trooped down into the shelter, below its sizeable boiler, one storey above. Just before 2am, on the 29th, the Ernest Brown Centre received a direct hit from a parachute bomb. The building imploded. The boiler was breached and scalding water rained down onto the throng who were trapped below.
It is estimated that more than 180 women, children and men died. 166 of the dead were identified. A great many more received horrific burns and other injuries. Only about 30 people managed to escape death or serious injury that night, at Durning Road.
Afterwards, Prime Minister Winston Churchill described the Durning Road Bombing as “the single worst (civilian) incident of the War”. Even so, this represents an awful chapter in the city’s wartime history that is unknown to many Liverpool people. The memorial plaque to those who died in this tragedy is, now, housed at Kensington Primary School in Brae Street, close by Durning Road and the former bomb-site.