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  • Chipmunk Carol
    Surly bond slipper
    • Aug 2003
    • 2682

    Blackout Curtains

    Ive been assisting the Military Aviation Museum MilitaryAviationMuseum.org with the recreation of the Goxhill Control Tower/Watch Office. Weve made fantastic progress with it.

    One area we have struggled with is finding the right sort of material for blackout curtains. Sure people would probably have used whatever they could get their hands on. Sure there were most likely different varieties. I am wondering if anyone knows the whereabouts of some guaranteed genuine WWII blackout material. The samples I have seen in museums appear to be a compromise and not always opaque.

    Any ideas?
    Im located in the UK.
    de Havilland forever!
  • jack windsor
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Dec 2008
    • 896

    #2
    hi,
    from what I can remember, at home we had a roller blind set up, it was like thick brown paper but black, and it could be ripped easy...I know its not an answer to your question, but its taken me back to my childhood, and in these times not a bad thing.
    regards,
    jack...

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    • Mark12
      MEANS MOTIVE OPPORTUNITY
      • Jan 2000
      • 10821

      #3
      Our 'blackout curtains' were just black/charcoal paper stapled to a light lathe frame and I assume just rested or fitted in the window frame. What I remember vividly as a four year old, with my father, was the game of jumping through and bursting them at the end of WWII.
      "...the story had been forensically examined and was deeply impressive. I knew that the whole story was a load of myth and baloney"

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      • G-ASEA
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Feb 2006
        • 1406

        #4
        Mum had some dusters that she said where made from blackout curtains. They where a soft material.

        Dave

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        • Chipmunk Carol
          Surly bond slipper
          • Aug 2003
          • 2682

          #5
          That is all very interesting. It just goes to show it was a make-do-and-mend culture, just scrounging what you could. I had not heard of the roller blinds before. Interesting.

          Thank you.
          de Havilland forever!

          Comment

          • Denis
            The past is preferable!
            • Mar 2004
            • 1495

            #6
            I remember visiting the Gymnasium and chancel that doubled as a cinema on the former RAF Hunsdon airfield before it was demolished some thirty years ago. All the windows along the top of the building had wooden poles with the remains of what looked like thin black linen curtains attached by rings to the poles. Seen very similar remains in the same type of building at Parham years ago. I wouldnt think there would have been that much difference to those in the control towers.
            Hertfordshire Airfields Memorial Group
            http://hamg.co.uk

            Hunsdon, Sawbridgeworth and Matching Green airfields..
            http://www.wartime-airfields.com

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            • Chipmunk Carol
              Surly bond slipper
              • Aug 2003
              • 2682

              #7
              Interestingly, the tiny sample we have found (A4 size) seems a rather thin, slightly-porous, black weave (similar to the ones in the Ops Room at Duxford). Various thoughts from others are 1) the material has degraded over time, 2) the tower would have had dimmer light and, being in the remote countryside, the light would have been less noticeable from the air, so the material did not need to be quite so opaque.
              de Havilland forever!

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              • feroxeng
                Rank 3 Registered User
                • Jun 2018
                • 15

                #8
                I had blackout curtains on my bedroom right through the 1950s, but at that time with a more presentable curtain on top. The blackout bit was a fairly thin smooth double-weave, so quite thin but not transparent, probably cotton. It had a sort of dull look to it. This was in Belfast. I doubt very much that there was a standard that everyone used as the supplies would have run out, so I suspect it was a case of use what you can find.
                Feroxeng

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                • Chipmunk Carol
                  Surly bond slipper
                  • Aug 2003
                  • 2682

                  #9
                  Do you think there is any truth in the tale that the blackout curtains had little effect and were more there to give the public a sense of control in helping the war effort? I have heard this said also of the windows that were taped with crosses to help prevent flying glass.
                  de Havilland forever!

                  Comment

                  • Firebird
                    Avons with attitude
                    • Mar 2003
                    • 2140

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Chipmunk Carol View Post
                    One area we have struggled with is finding the right sort of material for blackout curtains. Sure people would probably have used whatever they could get their hands on. Sure there were most likely different varieties. I am wondering if anyone knows the whereabouts of some guaranteed genuine WWII blackout material. The samples I have seen in museums appear to be a compromise and not always opaque.

                    Any ideas?
                    Im located in the UK.
                    Most people used what they could get hold of, but the official supplied material was just black cotton. Yes, it was not always opaque, and often had to be hung in multiple sheets, tacked together with thread until the desired level of blackout to satisfy the ARP was achieved.
                    Even into the 1970's my grandparents still retained the secondary blackout frames on their windows that my Grandfather had built just after the war had started, which they still used in wintertime to keep out the drafts from the Crittall windows that were by then in poor condition and they were in no means to afford to repair. The original blackout curtain material fitted to them had long given up the ghost, and had been replaced with various sections of old curtains by then. The blackout curtain that hung over the back door from the kitchen was the original though, a heavy wool blanket backed leather type curtain that had a unique odour
                    I was with it all the way until letting the brakes off..........

                    Comment

                    • Chipmunk Carol
                      Surly bond slipper
                      • Aug 2003
                      • 2682

                      #11
                      Firebird, that is superb help. Many thanks indeed. First-hand information is the best.

                      If you ever get a chance to visit the museum, please do. walk down the drive from the enormous hangars to the control tower and vintage hangars a) to check up on what they have put up for curtains and b) to see all the little bits of England, I sent out there, so the Americans could see how we lived during the war and c) to be in utter awe of all the amazing and unique aircraft they have there. I cannot recommend it enough.
                      de Havilland forever!

                      Comment

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