Stairway to Heaven needs last £50k for 1943 Bethnal Green wartime memorial

PUBLISHED: 17:00 25 November 2014

Bethnal Green tube station today

Bethnal Green tube station today


The trust fund struggling to complete the partially-built memorial in London’s East End to Britain’s worst civilian disaster of the Second World War needs the last £50,000 to complete the £480,000 project.

1943... Stairway of death, just days after disaster1943... Stairway of death, just days after disaster

So Bethnal Green’s Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust is launching a £200-a-time pledge urging businesses to fill the gap.

“All we need is £50,000,” trust secretary Sandra Scotting told the East London Advertiser last night. “But time is running out.

“All those who survived this forgotten disaster are now in their eighties and nineties.

1943... air-raid shelter entrance1943... air-raid shelter entrance

“There aren’t many left who will see the memorial completed. We lost another survivor this year.”

Those survivors alive today were children caught up in the tragedy at the incomplete Bethnal Green tube station on the Central Line extension which was being used as a public air-raid shelter.

Anti-aircraft rocket-guns being tested in Victoria Park caused alarm on March 3, 1943, as hundreds of people fearing another German air raid on London rushed down the narrow staircase for safety.

Annual memorial... The Rev Alan Green lights 173 cadles for the deadAnnual memorial... The Rev Alan Green lights 173 cadles for the dead

But it was a false alarm and the massive crush caused 173 deaths of men, women children.

“The matter is urgent as we don’t want to lose any more survivors before the memorial is completed,” Sandra added. “So we are asking businesses and wellwishers to sponsor the 173 conical light-spots in the memorial roof for £200 each to help finish it by January.”

Each light-spot will let sun-rays shine through to the paving below to represent one victim. Their surnames will be carved around the teak inverted ‘stairway’ alongside the tube station entrance where disaster struck 71 years ago.

How finished memorial will lookHow finished memorial will look

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