Search

Plaque unveiled to remember victims of Stratford Tube crash

PUBLISHED: 11:49 13 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:57 13 April 2016

A victim on a stretcher is carried away from the station after the 1953 Stratford Tube crash        Picture: Newham Archives

A victim on a stretcher is carried away from the station after the 1953 Stratford Tube crash Picture: Newham Archives

Archant

The lives of a dozen people killed in a tragic Tube crash 63 years ago have been commemorated with a new plaque in the borough’s biggest station.

A carriage struck during the collision in 1953 in Stratford station      Picture: Newham ArchivesA carriage struck during the collision in 1953 in Stratford station Picture: Newham Archives

The lives of a dozen people killed in a Tube crash 63 years ago have been commemorated with a new plaque in the borough’s biggest station.

West Ham MP Lyn Brown, London Underground operations director Peter McNaught and many others joined relatives of those who perished in the Central Line collision at Stratford station on April 8, 1953 for an unveiling ceremony on Friday last week.

Close to 1,000 evening commuters were caught up in the carnage when one train travelling around 20mph struck the rear of another in a tunnel between Stratford and Leyton, causing 41 light injuries, five serious injuries and 12 deaths.

A report into the incident found the driver of the moving train, a Mr JS Besley, failed to obey “stop and proceed” rules and as a consequence his train “telescoped” into the back of the stationary train. He had to have one of his legs amputated.

The memorial plaque came about after historian John Turner wrote to Lyn about the crash and the two joined forces in lobbying to have it remembered.

“I didn’t know about the crash until John told me,” Lyn said at the ceremony. “Which is surprising, because my mum and grandmum lived in the area and passed on a kind of oral history.

“But it’s important that we recognise the people that died in this crash and I’m so grateful to be here today.”

For John, who lives in Leytonstone, the crash is especially important to remember because it involved acts of heroism from members of the public and nurses who worked through the night in an attempt to rescue passengers stuck in the tunnel.

After toiling all night among the injured of the railway crash, these four nurses came up from the tunnel of tragedy at 4.30am in the morning             Picture: PA ImagesAfter toiling all night among the injured of the railway crash, these four nurses came up from the tunnel of tragedy at 4.30am in the morning Picture: PA Images

“It proves that in disasters people do stick together and help each other,” he said, adding that he had no personal connection to the crash despite his namesake, John Turner of Woodford Green, dying in the tragedy.

“A lot of people would like to think they’d do the same thing – well, this is a great example of that spirit.”

The plaque’s central purpose is to ensure the people who died on that day are not lost to history but remain an active part of the borough’s collective memory.

Mr McNaught said: “The 1953 Central Line crash at Stratford was a terrible tragedy and the customers who lost their lives and were injured will never be forgotten.”

A comemorative plaque unveiled in memory of 12 people who died on 8 April 1953, with relatives joining TfL representatives and Lyn Brown MPA comemorative plaque unveiled in memory of 12 people who died on 8 April 1953, with relatives joining TfL representatives and Lyn Brown MP

He added that the commemoration was a “mark of respect” for the victims, their families and the emergency services who did their duty on the disastrous day.

The theme of keeping alive the memory of those who didn’t leave the trains was also emphasised by historian Stephen Bewsey from Newham History Society.

“It’s very good that this tragedy is being remembered,” he said.

“It’s good that people can look at this when they are commuting – I hope they will reflect on it.

Nurses help victims of the Stratford Tube crash in 1953         Picture: Newham ArchivesNurses help victims of the Stratford Tube crash in 1953 Picture: Newham Archives

“Our job is to chart the history of this borough, because if we don’t then it could all be lost.”

Stephen also paid tribute to both Mr Turner and Ms Brown, who “deserve credit” for pushing to have the crash remembered.

The plaque will not be the last of its kind across the capital as London Underground plans future commemorations.

“We have a small series planned,” said Mike Ashworth, design and heritage manager at the Underground.

“We hope to mark a lot of sites associated with the Second World War.

“It’s part of our heritage – it’s an important part of commuters’ lives.”

The terrible crash is well noted for the valour and tirelessness of the nurses, doctors and even passers-by who laboured through the night to rescue travellers stuck in the tunnel’s wreckage.

The report into the crash stated that the last people were carried from the tunnel at 2.15am.

Its author said the conduct of helpers was “much to be admired”.

Related articles

Latest Newham Stories

National League: Braintree Town 1 Leyton Orient 5

Yesterday, 19:28

Centuries from Simon Harmer and Tom Westley put Essex in complete command against Surrey at the Kia Oval, where the champions ended day two facing their first defeat of a triumphant season.

Jamie Porter
Yesterday, 17:00

Justin Edinburgh’s team could break a club record this evening

Justin Edinburgh
Yesterday, 19:00

The Financial Conduct Authority has opened its new headquarters in Stratford.

Canning Town

Hammers’ Lukasz Fabianski is imporoving with every game

Poland
Yesterday, 13:00

Clapton boss Jonny Fowell had plenty of praise for Barkingside manager Michael Walther despite sealing a 3-0 victory against his side on Friday evening.

Michael Walther
Yesterday, 16:31

A St John Ambulance volunteer from Canary Wharf has received an award for his first aid work around Newham.

NHS
Yesterday, 15:57

Newham’s best and brightest were recognised at the annual Jack Petchey Awards.

Newham Council

PROMOTED CONTENT

Hanson Fernandes’ journey began in 2015 when he arrived in London from Goa, India.

Newsletter Sign Up

Newham Recorder twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read news

Show Job Lists

Education Promo

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Newham Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now