Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust
Registered Charity Number 1118618
||Bethnal Green Tube Disaster 1943. |
On 3 March 1943 a crowd of people entered Bethnal Green tube station which was used at the time as an air-raid shelter. After the searchlights went on and an anti-aircraft battery a few hundred yards away in Victoria Park launched a salvo of a new type of anti-aircraft rockets the crowd surged forward. Someone tripped on the stairs causing many others to fall. 300 people were crushed into the stairwell within a few seconds, 173 of them died and over 90 were injured. The worst civilian disaster of the 2nd World War.
|Full planning permission has now been granted by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for the Memorial to be built. Now all we need to do is raise the money to complete the 'stairway' on the top.
Details of how to donate to the trust are given at the bottom of this page and on the 'Appeal / Donations' page. If you have any additional fund raising ideas please let us know.
posted: 8th May2013
Auction of artwork and photographs, Wednesday 29th May.
An auction of artwork by East London artists and photographs by Mike Pattison plus other items.
Viewing starts from 6.30pm and Mayor Boris Johnson
will be start the charity auction of photographs and artwork at 7pm.
Tickets £20,in advance only (which will include welcome drink and canapes),
can be purchased from the box office at Rich Mix, telephone 0207613 7498 or through
Or please call Derek Spicer on 07722 162 168 to purchase tickets in person.
If you would like to offer a work of art for the charity auction please call
the secretary, Sandra on 077324 60444.
An exhibition of artwork by East London artists 16th May to 15th June.
An exhibition of artwork by East London artists and photographs of East
London in the late 1970s and early 80s by Mike Pattison showing market
traders, lots of scenes from the old East End and their characters,
including the keeping of the Rothschild's tomb who lived at the cemetery.
All the exhibits will be on sale. Venue: Forman's Fish Island Gallery, Stour
Road, E3 2NT. Free entry. Open Thursdays & Fridays 5pm until 9pm, and on
Saturdays & Sundays from noon until 5pm.
posted: 7th March 2013
70th Anniversary Memorial Service.
It was standing room only in the packed St John on Bethnal Green Church
where survivors, rescuers and relatives of those that died in the Bethnal
Green tube shelter disaster came together to commemorate the 70th
anniversary of the worst civilian disaster of World War II. Approximately
550 people were uplifted and comforted by the Memorial Service, conducted by
Reverence Prebendary Alan Green, Rector of St. John on Bethnal Green Church,
aided by its curate, Revd Stuart Lee.
They were joined by local MP Rushanara Ali, John Biggs (London Assembly
member for City & East), TV's DIY expert Tommy Walsh, singer/TV presenter
Cheryl Baker, SKY TV's Harry Harris and other members of the Stairway to
Heaven Memorial Trust plus an army of Pearly Kings & Queens. The names of
the 173 people that died were read out by members of the charity committee
as Rev Green said it was important that they are remembered as their names
were suppressed at the time of the disaster due to wartime secrecy. Sixty
two of the victims were children and Cheryl Baker sobbed as she read her
list of names that started with Carole Geary, the youngest child to have
died at just 5 months old. Rev Green lit 173 candles on the altar as the
names were read out.
After the Service a parade, led by Nick Ridsdale carrying the Standard of
the Civil Defence, crossed the road where everyone was able to lay wreaths
and flowers on the newly built Stairway to Heaven Memorial for the first
time. Prayers of blessing and dedication for the Memorial were given by
representatives from the Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim faiths as well as from
Rev. Green. After a minute's silence, lone bugler Terry Hissey played 'The
Farewell', a civilian equivalent of 'The Last Post'
A number of new survivors joined those already known to the charity for a
photograph at the side of the Memorial. It was the first time that they had
all been together for 70 years. Some of the survivors had travelled long
distances to be able to pay their respects to family and friends that were
not as lucky as they were.(some that had never spoken about the disaster
before). The charity had put out an appeal for anyone connected with the
disaster to attend and give their details to Dr. Toby Butler of the
University of East London. His team from the Raphael Samuel History Centre
at the University will copy and store digitally their memories and records
Plaques on the memorial list the names and ages of all the victims as well
as a number of individual plaques giving testimonials to what happened on
that fateful night, written by survivors, relatives of the fallen and
Emergency Services personnel. Walking around the memorial and reading their
accounts of that night gives a snapshot of the horror that unfolded. Police
and firemen were there to honour their former comrades that worked tireless
through the night pulling out people from the crush, not knowing if their
own family and friends would be among the dead and injured. The sights they
experienced, particularly with so many children involved, affected them for
the rest of their lives.
The Stairway to Heaven Memorial Charity, set up in 2007 to build a memorial
to honour the disaster, has managed to fund two thirds so far, but still
needs £105,000 to complete it. It is hoped this could be finished as soon
as possible so that the many survivors (who may not have time on their side)
will know that the story of the disaster will be immortalised for future
If anyone has any information about the disaster please contact Dr Toby
Butler (email@example.com) or call 01732 366670. If you would like to make
a donation towards the final 'stairway' part of the memorial please pres the
'donate now' button or phone Derek Spicer on 07722 162 168.
posted: 17th January 2013
The Memorial in January 2013.
The Memorial is looking really good now.
The bench has been added, the
paving is in place and the turf is looking great after all the rain. There
is some remedial work to be done before the final polish over the next few
weeks and then the plaques will be fixed in the slots. The flower beds will
be planted as soon as the weather conditions are right. It should all be
looking spectacular in time for the 70th anniversary Memorial Service on
Sunday 3rd March at 2pm at St. John on Bethnal Green Church. After the
Service we will be able to lay wreaths and flowers on the Memorial itself
for the first time and there will be room to accommodate everyone instead of
the few crowding around the pavement at the top of the stairs.
We hope that there will be lots of survivors, relatives and Emergency
Services personnel attending, as well as anyone who is interested in the
event and some special VIPs. So, all are welcome and there will be
refreshments available after the Service and lots of information about the
The weeks running up to Christmas were mega busy and very cold for our
fund-raising events, but certainly worth doing.
The station collections at Mile End brought in £436.62, at Stratford £458.75
and Bethnal Green £430.84. The Halloween night at King Edward memorial
Gardens netted £24.38, the firework night £323.88, the Shoreditch Town Hall
Design show £337.73, the Festive Fair at St. John on Bethnal Green Church
forecourt £980 and West Ham football club £501.04. Added to this June
Blackman’s farewell night at the Fountain pub raised £105 (the pub was
closed down by the owners suddenly at the end of November sadly, after June
& John had been there for 25 years and we wish them well in their enforced
Our grateful thanks go to everyone that put donations in our buckets,
everyone who gave us the chance to collect at their venue or event, and to
all our wonderful volunteers who helped out in very cold (and sometimes wet)
conditions. We appreciate everyone’s help in those last frantic months and
throughout last year.
As you probably know, we do not pay any expenses to anyone and none of us
take any expenses out of the charity funds (not even the secretary) as we
all pay our own travel, phone, postage, stationery, printing etc, out of our
own pockets. This ensures that every penny raised goes towards building the
Stairway to Heaven Memorial. So, we really do appreciate everyone’s efforts
Now we look forward to 2013 with much excitement and hope we can raise the
last of the money for the ‘stairway’ part to be added as soon as possible.
We still have some lovely calendars for sale. They will remind you about the
Memorial Service on 3rd March. They cost £6 each and if you live in London
Derek Spicer may be able to meet you with a copy to save postage. Please let
us know if you would like a copy and we will try to arrange postage or
Sandra (Hon. Sec) firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have 1 framed Arsenal shirt signed by 22 players and also a signed
Arsenal football plus I signed Spurs shirt, so if anyone is keen to buy one
for a present please get in touch for more details. If we don’t receive any
bids we will put them on EBay in a month or two.
Don’t forget that if you wish to send flowers to anyone now or for
Valentines Day or Mother’s Day please consider using Charity Flowers from
Guernsey. The flowers
are very reasonably priced and there is NO delivery charge. If you choose
'Stairway to Heaven Memorial' as your nominated charity when booking it
doesn’t cost you any more, but we will receive
15% from each order. So it is a great help and doesn't cost you any more.
Phone to order on 08705 300 600 or
to see their
posted: 16th November 2012
The first photograph shows Babs Clark, survivor of the disaster, laying a wreath on behalf of the charity.
The other two pictures show children from Globe Road School laying flowers on the plinth in memory of previous pupils Ron Collett, Doreen Collett and Vera Trotter who died in the disaster.
posted: 13th October 2012
Charity Celebrity Concert.
The Charity Celebrity Concert in aid of the Bethnal Green Memorial on
Saturday 6th October was a great success. It was held in St. John’s Church
next to Bethnal Green underground station.
Our patron, Tommy Walsh was the compere for the evening and he made sure
everything ran smoothly and with lots of humour. He started the proceedings
explaining about the Bethnal Green tube disaster and the memorial that is
being built just across the road from the church. He said that the money
raised from this concert will be put towards the final ‘stairway’ part which
is all that is outstanding from the project.
Photographs and full report on the Celebrity.
posted: 6th October 2012
Plinth in place.
At long last progress is being made and the plinth sections have been craned
onto the site and all fixed together. So, it is beginning to look like the
memorial at last. The plaques and bench still have to be fitted to it and
then the paving surrounding before it receives its final polish and clean up.
We are delighted to see it in place and it is causing a lot of interest now
that the top can be seen above the hoarding and railings.
posted: 5th October 2012
On Saturday afternoon at Bethnal Green library visitors were treated to a
feast of delicious cakes with tea and coffee for the launch of Lynne
Whelon's book "The Chicken Run". Lynne explaining her reasons for writing it
and read a few passages to whet our appetite.
The fictional story mostly revolves around some children living in East
London in the 1950's when life was carefree enough for them to disappear for
the day with some food and drink and return home in the evening in time for
tea. There were no worries about playing in unsafe locations, kidnap,
paedophiles or murderers then. Interwoven in the background of the story is
a lady who had been involved in the Bethnal Green tube disaster and although
she had not spoken about it for many years it affected her life and brought
mystery to the plot.
Lynne very kindly donated some of the book sales money to our charity and
organised a raffle at the library which raised £50.55 for us.
The book is available to order in all good bookshops and on Amazon.
posted: 5th October 2012
The Premier Performance of the London Requiem took place at Abney Park Cemetery on Saturday
The Requiem, composed by Benjamin Till, included text found on gravestones
across London. The music was provided by the Tamesis Quartet, Matt
Whittington and Paul Kendall with singers and soloists from The Rebel
Chorus. The live event took place outdoors in the beautiful setting of Abney
Park Cemetery in North London, on a still, warm, evening, which made the
music even more haunting. During the performance visual artist Gina
Southgate produced a work of art in front of the audience.
At the end of the evening the audience were encouraged to take away one of