Crane tragedy families at Bromley-by-Bow pay visit to collect their belongings from damaged homes in Compton Close
- Credit: Mike Brooke
Some of the families of Compton Close left homeless when a 60ft crane came crashing down from a building site in Bromley-by-Bow last month were allowed back briefly today to collect a few belongings.
They have been put in temporary accommodation after spending nearly a month in hotel B&B with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
The terrace of six cottages took the brunt of the collapse on July 8 when it crashed through the roof, tragically killing 85-year-old June Harvey and injuring three others including a building site worker who was on the crane when it toppled over.
The neighbouring families in Compton Close were hurriedly evacuated for safety before they had time to collect any of their possessions and spent four weeks at two Holiday Inn hotels at Whitechapel and Canning Town.
Now, seven weeks on, a few were finally allowed a brief return this-afternoon to gather papers and clothing as well as remove their cars from the turning off Watts Grove that’s still cordoned off.
Race track rider Perry Goldstein was glad to retrieve one of his beloved motorbikes he races with and his van to transport it.
“It was good getting back home, even if just for 20 minutes,” he told the East London Advertiser.
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“It was just enough to pick up essentials and get my motorcycle and van back.
“The van wouldn’t start as the battery was flat, but luckily I had a spare and we managed to jump-start it.”
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He has been given a 12-month lease with his brother Michael on a flat at the top end of Bow, near Old Ford Road, before the crane can be removed from Compton Close and the cottages examined for structural damage.
That could take six months, even a year, before they can move back, the families have been warned.
But two families said they weren’t allowed back today to collect their things.
Daniel Duncan, 43, and his wife Julie have been put up in temporary accommodation in Devons Road just two minutes walk away – but have been refused back to collect essentials and even their car.
“I use my car for work on building sites all over London,” Daniel explained. All our winter clothes are in the house.
“Gateway Housing offered to get my tools for me—but that’s no use without my car to get to work.
“We’ve got nothing. We’re in limbo. The quality of our lives is affected.”
He is having to use public transport, with lawyers telling him to keep all the receipts and get the money back later.
“But that could take years,” Duncan fumed. “The lawyers have to find someone to blame for the crane accident first before they can get any compensation.”
Their neighbour Tracy Clachar, a Tower Hamlets children’s care worker, was luckier. She managed to retrieve her car today which she needs for her rounds, although she’s still off work till the end of September because of the trauma.
“I feel better after today’s visit,” she said. “The whole place shook when the crane came down, but I was surprised to see the large heavy mirror I had put up just the day before was still on the wall and wasn’t even cracked.”
Tracy has been given temporary accommodation in a tower block in Poplar by Gateway Housing, her landlords.
But she feels nervous as there is scaffolding on the adjoining block having cladding work done, which is a constant reminder of the Watts Grove building site next to Compton Close where the crane toppled over.
The weather is also playing a part in getting the crane removed, with rain and high winds which could hamper the operation. Any wind more than 24mph would endanger the whole operation.
Families at the other end of the cul-de-sac were allowed to move back earlier this month.
But it could be next summer before those living opposite can return.
A Town Hall source said: “It’s taking longer to clear the crane than previously thought, at least five or six months. The problem is that it’s not only the houses that were hit, but the block of flats that was under construction in the next turning which has made it difficult to remove.”
Even then, engineers will have to assess the structure of the six terraced dwellings right down to the foundations to see if they are safe—or they may have to be demolished and new housing put up in their place.
Lifting equipment is to be brought onto the sit, but has to be tested off site first, to make sure it can do the job safely when it is eventually brought into Compton Close. It’s going to be a long operation.