Recorder editor Michael Adkins on importance of remembering disasters including Silvertown explosion

PUBLISHED: 10:43 18 January 2017 | UPDATED: 10:43 18 January 2017


Battle worn soldiers or maimed victims of conflicts far away often stir in the mind when we think of war.

In recent times the relentless bombardment of Syria and images of orphaned victims roaming the rubble-strewn streets have beamed around the homes of millions.

You can’t help but feel sorry for the victims, tinged with a sense of relief that our loved ones are safe from conflicts that rage in the Middle East.

The focus of Remembrance Sunday is rightly on those who died fighting for our freedom in the two World Wars and those living with the effects of recent campaigns such as Iraq and Afghanistan.

It’s quite hard to imagine a time – especially for those under a certain age – when ordinary people going about their lives were victims of large scale wartime disasters on our streets.

The 100th anniversary of the Silvertown explosion demonstrates this more vividly than ever before.

It shows how ordinary people were placed at great risk, not just from the threat of invasion or aerial bombardment by the enemy, but by reckless decisions made by a government swept up in a state of emergency (see feature on pages 8, 9, 10 & 11 of the paper).

The evocative words and family links in MP Lyn Brown’s comment (page 29 of the Recorder) reveal the devastating impact the war had on residents and employees at the Brunner Mond Works and the hundreds injured or killed in the horrendous explosion in 1917.

It may be 100 years ago but for the descendants of those victims it’s always in their minds. Aside from the devastation and human suffering caused, this anniversary highlights a key piece of the borough’s fascinating history.

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