While strolling the Old Spitalfields Market you should always be aware that you are literally walking above one of the most successful World War 2 London stories.
It was indeed under your feet that Mickey's Shelter showed everyone how, during the harsh times of the Blitz, the people of the East End knew how to sort themselves out.
The vaults underneath the Fruit and Wool exchange and the Spitalfields market had been identified by Stepney Borough Council as a suitable place for an air raid shelter.
But little more than allowing nearly 5.000 persons to descend into it was done.
The floors were dirty with excrement, individuals slept on rubbish, the interconnecting passages were full of rubbish, lights dim or non-existent... it was chaos.
A group of “residents” led by Michael (Mickey) Davies decided then to take the matter in their hands and improve the situation.
Clear rules on how to run the public spaces were established and enforced by a democratically elected and accountable committee presided by Mickey.
The shelter became such a success story that even General Eisenhower officially visited the site in 1944.