“Stairway to heaven” Bethnal Green Disaster

Our new project called “Archives and Future places” is yet another challenge. What is the most challenging part for me is that  it has to have a connection to Roman Road which I knew very little about. The positive thing is that I need to present it what it would look like in 100 years. I say positive as it allows me to use my imagination yet I still need to make sure I stick to the brief as it still has to have a connection with the past and present of the area.

On my way to university the train I was on has broken down at Bethnal Green so I had to go and grab the underground. I thought great opportunity to take more pictures of underground to develop my previous concept. Entering the underground I have noticed some memorial next to it.

Memorial for Bethnal Green Disaster victims unveiled by “Stairway to heaven” trust
Names of 173 victims of which 62 were children

What caught my attention is that a lot of the victims were as young as one year old.

Plaque to commemorate victims above the entrance of the tube.

Bethnal Green disaster was named “the worst civilian disaster of the second world war”. On 3rd of March 1943, 173 men, women and children lost their lives in a crush on the staircase trying to enter the air raid shelter that was Bethnal Green Tube at the time. People were fleeing in panic as they heard the sirens which indicated that there was an air attack. Sadly, it later turned out that the air-raid warning had simply been a test – there was no bombing raid. All the lives were lost in vein and media was trying to blame the bomb attack as the truth would have hurt countries morale. The truth wasn’t revealed for decades.

In order to understand more about this disaster I have watched documentaries and testimonials of the survivors.

As I went on to doing more research on it I realised that I have just found a missing link. All the elements that I wanted to use seem to come together: underground, children who are no longer alive, attempt to try and claim the childhood back that they have never had. They will be enjoying the childhood with children that are alive now to highlight the sense of community that East End area has. Those children are not forgotten and people fought to have the memorial build, a plaque above the entrance to the tube wasn’t enough to commemorate the memory of the victims. During the Blitz Bethnal Green underground could fit 5,000 people. They have created a close link community.

In 2017 the memorial was unveiled, 74 years after the disaster. If my story was 100 years in the future that would be 174 years later almost the same number as the number of victims -173.

Let’s crack on with the storyboard!!

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