100 years since London’s biggest explosion rocked the capital and killed 73

Looking at the figures from the Silvertown explosion, it’s hard to imagine anything on that scale ever happening again.

The blast at the TNT factory in the East End killed 73, injured another 500, destroyed 900 houses and badly damaged 70,000 more.

Today London will mark the 100th anniversary of the disaster in 1917 which is still its biggest explosion to date.

It occurred when 50 tonnes of TNT exploded at Brunner Mond works, which was making munitions for the First World War.

The explosion was so severe it was heard as far away as Sandringham in Norfolk, and along the Sussex coast, while the windows of The Savoy Hotel were blown out.

100th anniversary since London's biggest explosion which killed 73 credit getty
The blast destroyed 900 homes and badly damaged 70,000 more (Picture: Getty)
100th anniversary since London's biggest explosion which killed 73 credit rex
Relatives of those killed will take part in memorial events today (Picture: Rex)

Relatives of those killed will take part in a number of memorial events at the site, while the Museum of London will also release a newly digitised photography album of 24 images taken by John H Avery.

Eyewitnesses likened the scale of the destruction to that which occurred to villages on the Western Front.

An account written shortly after the disaster, and republished by City Metric, gives a vivid description of what happened.

Suddenly there was a deafening roar, a fountain of flaming debris was projected high into the air and this spread out like a fiery rose, dropping death and destruction over the whole district.

The force of the explosion sent pieces of machinery, some weighing several tons, flying through the air with the result that cottages and factory buildings that were not wrecked by the concussion, were crushed and battered by the hail of fragments that came raining down upon them.

Several streets of houses were converted into heaps of rubble in a second. Those that escaped total destruction remained as mere skeletons among the wreckage.

The exact cause of the fire which caused the explosion was never known but a number of possibilities have been suggested down the years.

Infiltration of the factory by a German agent was ruled out by an inquiry, however, a number of other security and other issues were identified.

Perhaps most convincingly a government safety inspection had highlighted TNT left on the floor, which could have been ignited by a boot heel or bit of metal.

100th anniversary since London's biggest explosion which killed 73 Baking Britain Golden: Tate & Lyle sugar factory on the banks of the River Thames East London with the Thames Flood Barrier as a backdrop credit getty
The explosion took place in SIlvertown (Picture: Getty)

But as the two men who were working in the area of the factory were killed in the blast, the precise cause will never be known.

The inquiry afterwards said TNT should be stored in factories away from munition factories and for greater regulation under the 1875 Explosives Act.

But it wasn’t until another explosion at Hooley Hill in Manchester killed 40 that action was taken by the government.

The War Office was put in charge of munitions factories to improve security and TNT was classed as an explosive.

Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2017/01/19/100-years-since-london-biggest-explosion-rocked-the-capital-and-killed-73-6389073/#ixzz4WskDrGGG



Original Article: http://metro.co.uk/2017/01/19/100-years-since-london-biggest-explosion-rocked-the-capital-and-killed-73-6389073/

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