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Call to remember the Silvertown explosion victims as if they were soldiers

PUBLISHED: 09:00 19 January 2017

A commemorative plaque inside St John's Church, North Woolwich.

A commemorative plaque inside St John's Church, North Woolwich.

Archant

An expert on the Silvertown explosion has said the victims should be remembered in the same way as soldiers from the First World War.

The memorial to those who lost their lives at its new home in the middle of the Royal Wharf development in Silvertown The memorial to those who lost their lives at its new home in the middle of the Royal Wharf development in Silvertown

Graham Hill, who along with librarian Howard Bloch wrote The Silvertown Explosion: London 1917, said: “It’s something that needs to be known about. It’s important to remember these things.

“Compared to the loss of life in the battle of the Somme, it’s nothing, but to the people of Silvertown it was huge,” he said.

“We should remember the sacrifices people made. The bravery of the firemen for example.

“It’s frightening to think they went out knowing exactly what they were facing, but went out there anyway.”

For Graham, whose interest in history began as a young boy growing up in Stratford, raising awareness of the disaster is really important.

“It’s something that’s very little known about in the area. The site of the explosion has been empty for years. Not many people know much about the tragic loss of life that occurred there,” he said.

To mark tomorrow’s centenary, Graham will explain the history of Silvertown before and after the disaster at a free event open to the public organised by Eastside Community Heritage at St Luke’s Community Centre in Tarling Road, Canning Town.

Starting at 6pm the commemoration will include a minute’s silence at 6.52pm the exact time of the explosion, with an exhibition of oral histories, photographs and memorabilia.

Relatives of the victims will also go to the event, including members of the family of Henry Vickers, a 49-year-old fireman who died during the explosion, who will be travelling from Canada.

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