Plant-Lore

Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

Commemorating the Bethnal Green Tube Disaster

Posted on by royvickery |

On 3 March 1943 173 people died when trying to reach an underground shelter at the unfinished Bethnal Green tube station.  Two people fell at the bottom of the stairs and others fell on top of them, leading to the worse civilian disaster in Britain during the Second World War.  The government tried to hush things up; it was thought that it would be bad for people’s morale if they knew of it, and, although the local council had on three occasions asked for safety at the station to be improved, the government refused to do so.  In the House of Commons it was claimed that the disaster was due to ‘loss of self control’, but it seems that there was no panic; within seconds people simply fell on top of the people in front of them.

In 2017 a memorial ‘Stairway of Heaven Memorial’ was unveiled, and in recent years (since 2013?) a service has been held on the anniversary of the disaster.  A particularly well-attended one was held in 2023, to mark the 80th anniversary.  On 3 March 2024 about 50 people gathered for a short service, before which people placed wreaths and cut flowers on the Memorial, and during which the names of victims were read.

Note kindly supplied by Sandra Scotting of the Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust, 7 March 2024:  ‘There was a service in 1993 and then no more until our charity was formed and we started holding services in the church every year from 2007.  Last year was the last big one (the 80th anniversary) with refreshments, etc., from this year on there will just be a short service at the Memorial itself on the actual 3rd March, whichever day of the week that will be.’

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