Mayor pledges £10k on air for Bethnal Green’s wartime disaster memorial

Unfinished memorial in Bethnal Green Gardens

Unfinished memorial in Bethnal Green Gardens - Credit: Stairway Trust

Boris Johnson has pledged £10,000 towards finishing the memorial in London’s East End to Britain’s worst wartime civilian disaster.

Artist impression of how memorial will look

Artist impression of how memorial will look - Credit: Stairway Trust

The Mayor of London opened his City Hall chequebook live on air when he appeared for his monthly spot on LBC’s Nick Ferrari show today.

Boris Johnson raising cash at auction in May, 2013, for Bethnal Green disaster memorial

Boris Johnson raising cash at auction in May, 2013, for Bethnal Green disaster memorial - Credit: Stairway Trust

He took a call from the Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust’s secretary Sandra Scotting reminding him that he promised to look into her plea for cash the last time she rang in a month ago.

“I told Boris I paid £80 out of my own pocket for the annual memorial reception for the remaining survivors,” Sandra said afterwards.

“We need another £80,000 to complete the memorial—so I was thrilled when he pledged £10,000.”


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Sandra now hopes to use the Mayor’s gift to persuade businesses in east London to cough up more cash to help get the half-completed memorial in Bethnal Green Gardens finished by the 72nd anniversary next March of the 1943 tragedy.

The concrete plinth is already in place just a few yards from the entrance to Bethnal Green Underground station which was being used as a public air-raid shelter during the Second Wortld War while still under construction.

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All that remains to finish the memorial is its suspended oak staircase to be carved and erected.

Radar-controlled anti-aircraft guns were being tested unannounced in Victoria Park on the night of March 3, 1943, which caused a surge of people to head for the narrow staircase leading down to the underground shelter.

The surge led a sudden crush in which 173 men, women and children perished. The youngest to die was a five-month-old baby.

The Memorial Trust needs another £70,000 after Boris’s timely pledge today to complete the £480,000 project by next March.

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