Trumble Gardens will play a starring role in one of Thornton Heath’s most iconic events in recent times.

It will be the centre piece for the light festival but this isn’t the first time that the Brigstock Road gardens have been at the forefront of history in Thornton Heath.

Walking passed the gardens today you wouldn’t know that as recent as 73 year’s ago Trumble Gardens didn’t exist. Here we document the extraordinary turn of events on the fateful night of July 16 1944 when a V1 bomb, which was a bit like a cruise missile and dubbed the Doodlebug, flattened six houses and badly damaged 20 others including the fire station and library – unintentionally paving the way for the creation of the gardens.

The V1 was first launched against Britain in June 1944, just one week after D-Day and Thornton Heath, was badly battered with 15 Flying Bombs exploding killing about 61 people – four in the Brigstock Road strike.

Thornton Heath suffered much more than neighbouring districts some analysts say this was because of the false intelligence that Britain had  fed the Nazis and that the V1’s were overshooting but it was also as a result of Thornton Heath being more tightly packed with smaller terraced houses.

In Thornton Heath 80 per cent of the V1’s resulted in fatalities whereas in South London as a whole only 50 per cent were fatal incidents.

The Borough Engineer’s bomb damage report from that night reveals:Exploded on carriagewayat the junction of Brigstock Road and Quadrant Road. Services damaged. No. 73, Brigstock Road demolished. Nos. 67, 75, 154 and 178 are unstable. Nos. 77, 150, 152 and 180, Brigstock Road are probably unstable and seriously damaged. Nos. 63, 65, 79, 81, 146 and 148 are seriously damaged. Blast damage extends over a radius of 400 yards and affects houses damaged in a previous incident, including the Public Library and Fire Station, Brigstock Road.

The Croydon Advertiser reported on July 21 1944, ‘Flying Bombs Wreck More Homes’ but the report of bombing is intentionally vague about where it happened, because of censorship rules, so it may or may not relate to the Brigstock Road damage.

Years later a large area was cleared and this made way for the creation of gardens by the council. It was originally called Brigstock Road Gardens but was renamed in 1950 Trumble Gardens after Alderman Trumble, a Thornton Heath man who became Mayor of Croydon.

*Borough Engineer’s bomb damage photographs of Brigstock Road, copyright of Museum of Croydon.
*Our thanks to Samuel Ali, from the Museum of Croydon, for his kind help in researching this article.