Foundations being laid for memorial to 1943 Bethnal Green wartime disaster

Work has begun today (Thurs) on laying the foundations for the long-awaited memorial to the men, women and children killed in London’s East End 69 years ago in Britain’s worst wartime civilian disaster.

The foundations for the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ memorial are being laid down in Bethnal Green Gardens, just yards from the entrance to the Underground station that was being used as an air-raid shelter in 1943 when disaster struck during a false air-raid alert.

The foundation laying began at 11.30am by the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ memorial trust, which is still raising the remainder of its �500,000 appeal needed to complete the project.

It only has enough for the foundations, plinth and plaques at present, but the plans include a same-scale inverted staircase suspended above the plaque marking the steps leading into the air-raid shelter where 173 people were killed in the stamped on March 3, 1943.

East Enders were rushing to take cover, thinking there was a German air-raid—but it was a false alert thought to have been caused by the unfamiliar sound of rocket guns being test-fired in Victoria Park.

But it has been nearly seven decades before a memorial is finally being erected.

Fundraising continues with Bethnal Green’s MP Rushanara Ali and 20 Tower Hamlets councillors taking part on Saturday in a sponsored run in Victoria Park to get another �5,000.

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The run is followed on Sunday by the annual memorial service at St John on Bethnal Green Church, opposite the station entrance, with survivors and relatives of those who died.

Sponsors for the councillors’ 5k run can catch up with them online at:

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