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Relatives of passengers killed in Stratford Tube crash speak of ‘devastation’

PUBLISHED: 10:57 13 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:55 13 April 2016

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

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

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A dozen Tube passengers were killed in Stratford station 63 years ago when two trains collided.

The initial report in the Stratford Express on April 10    Picture: Newham ArchivesThe initial report in the Stratford Express on April 10 Picture: Newham Archives

On Friday last week, Lyn Brown joined many others to unveil a new plaque in the station to commemorate those who did not survive.

Though the catastrophe may seem to belong to another era, there are families still living with its consequences.

“My birth mother died when I was four, my dad remarried when I was six, and my stepmother died in the crash when I was 10,” Helen Gillman, 73, said in remembering Maud Treacher, who was 30 when she was killed in the crash with her 2-year-old son John.

“She died cuddling John – it was just terrible. It’s with me still.”

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 sad story of Maud and her baby son was also captured by the front page of the Stratford Express on April 10.

“I will look every time I’m in the station,” Janice Wells, 57, Helen’s step-sister, said.

“I didn’t really know about it when I was a kid, but I think about it now – it must have been so hard for Helen, losing two mothers that quickly.”

Helen added that both her birth mother and stepmother died on April 8, six years apart.

The second report in the Stratford Express from April 17    Picture: Newham ArchivesThe second report in the Stratford Express from April 17 Picture: Newham Archives

“It all comes back to you with things like this,” she said. “But it’s important to remember.”

Twins Jean Tant and Patricia Neal, 68, were present at the unveiling to remember their father, John Sturman, who died aged 44 on his way back to Leyton after working in Acton.

“There was devastation in the family,” Jean said. “My mother was left alone with us five-year-old twins and my older sister Margaret, who was 10.

“She just had to cope – there was a little bit of compensation, but that was it.”

Patricia added: “I get so emotional about it, even now.

“It’s so hard to talk about it.

“But we’re glad he’s being remembered.”

The sisters said that on the night of the crash, Margaret and the girls’ mum sat by the radio listening to the news.

“We thought he might be fine – just injured,” Margaret said.

“But when we heard he died we just had to get on with it.”


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