On Sunday 17th December, Rushanara Ali, Member of Parliament for Bethnal Green and Bow was joined by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan to officially open the Bethnal Green Tube Disaster memorial.
Since 2013, a memorial, two thirds-built, has stood adjacent to the station remembering those who died on 3 March 1943 after East Londoners were alarmed after hearing the unannounced sound of a new anti-aircraft gun fired in Victoria Park. War-hardy east Londoners fled to their nearest air raid shelter: the unfinished Bethnal Green tube. The station entrance had been deemed unsafe by the local council, which had asked central government three times that it be altered to make it safe for large crowds, but it had been refused permission.
On Sunday a full-size replica of the tube’s staircase made from teak wood was unveiled. Carved into the side of each step are names commemorating the 173 who lost their lives.
Speaking at the event, Rushanara said:
“I’d like to thank the Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust, the Mayor of London, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, the trustees and friends here today. As the local Member of Parliament, it has been an honour and a privilege to be involved with the campaign for a wartime memorial to commemorate the lives of the 173 people, including 62 children who tragically lost their lives on the night of the 3rd of March 1943.
The campaign to raise the necessary funds for this memorial have been a labour of love for all those involved in our community. In particular, we pay tribute to the survivors and their families and the family members of the victims. The patrons and Trustees of the Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust for their tireless work in making this memorial possible. A special thanks also to the architect of the wonderful memorial, Harry Paticas who has worked on the project for over a decade. And, of course, we are all incredibly grateful to everyone who made donations, including the local school children who donated their pocket money to help make the dream of this memorial possible.
Your work has made a lasting and fitting memorial for the victims possible and means that future generations will continue to remember and commemorate the lives of those we lost on that night in 1943.”
2) You can find more information on Rushanara’s work in Parliament here:
3) You can read an article in the Guardian that Rushanara wrote about the memorial