News story

Downing Street in War

This news article was published under the 1997 to 2001 Labour government

Until October 1940 Downing Street was used as a home and office.

Until October 1940 Downing Street was used by both Chamberlain and then Churchill as a home and office.

On 14 October 1940, however, a bomb landed on Treasury Green causing extensive damage to the house, proving to Churchill that he needed to move to safer accommodation.

Churchill and his wife moved out of Number 10 into the Number 10 Annex on the floor above the Central War Rooms. They lived here until the result of the 1945 General Election was announced.

All furniture and valuables were removed from 10 Downing Street, only the Cabinet room, private secretaries’ rooms and reinforced Garden Rooms remained furnished. Despite its being almost empty, Churchill used the house frequently during the Blitz for working and eating.

Once the bombing began, the central core of the British Government moved underground into secret war rooms, the “Cabinet War Rooms”. This provided secret, safe accommodation for the War Cabinet, Chiefs of Staff, intelligence services, and civil service personnel.

This feature has been written with the help of the Cabinet War Rooms (opens in new window)