A block of iconic Art Deco flats was saved from bombing during the Blitz after Hitler requested it be used as part of his British HQ, according to a new website.
Du Cane Court, in Balham, south London, survived unscathed from the Nazis’ bombing offensive against Britain in 1940 and 1941 despite surrounding buildings in the capital suffering obliteration.
Du Cane Court, a legendary Art Deco apartment block which survived the Blitz, has become the subject of a new website celebrating its history
The remarkable survival has prompted claims that the block, rumoured to have been a ‘hotbed of spies’, was earmarked by Hitler ahead of his intended victory, the website says, citing research from historian Gregory Vincent.
Meanwhile, others say German Luftwaffe aircraft maintained the building so they could use it as a navigational landmark to help them determine their route home.
The central entrance hall and reception of Du Cane Court was originally intended as a lounge for visitors. Residents say the interior has evolved over time from its original marble floor to grey carpet today
Under the Same Roof, the website set up by furniture brand Made.com, pays tribute to the legendary building, which has also survived a fire, the first invasion of pharaoh ants in a London block of flats, and a boiler explosion.
The 676-apartment block is one of Europe’s largest 1930s residential buildings and was once home to the Du Cane Court Club, a restaurant and fully-licensed bar, which was destroyed by a fire after the war’s end in 1945.
A historic photograph of Du Cane Court shows the 1930s building in its original form, little changed from the building inhabited by London residents today
Originally, every apartment included a built-in radio. Allegedly, during the Second World War, the manager Mr Jackson would break through the airwaves with announcements for those failing to observe blackout regulations: ‘Du Cane Court calling! Du Cane Court calling! A flat on the second floor in H block has the light on, and the blackout curtains are not drawn.’
Each apartment was also originally fitted with a built-in radio which was used during the Second World War to communicate with residents who were breaking blackout regulations.
Famous former residents include Academy and Golden Globe award-winning actors Dame Margaret Rutherford DBE and Hermione Gingold, and comedian Tommy Trinder lived there with his wife, Violet, from 1939 to 1955.
But the website also celebrates current residents of the block.
Lois began her life in Europe working at a ski resort in Austria, before moving to Paris. She later relocated to London and bought her first studio flat in Du Cane Court in 1980s
‘Originally my plan wasn’t to stay in London for long, but I found the job scene in London so vibrant that I stayed. I bought my first studio flat here in the 1980s, and now I’m in a two bed,’ said Du Cane Court resident Lois, originally from New Zealand.
‘I was born and raised in Braga, a small town in north-west Portugal. When I was 23, I bought a one-way ticket to London and today I work in peer-to-peer lending,’ said Portuguese resident Nuno.
Portuguese architect Nuno says he was fascinated by the block’s history quickly decided to buy an apartment
‘I’m a great lover of architecture, and I became fascinated by Du Cane Court after hearing some of the curious stories about the block.
‘When I viewed this flat it was like travelling back in time and I knew that I had to buy it.’