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Plaque unveiled to fireman 30 years after Limehouse ship blaze

PUBLISHED: 07:03 28 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:32 05 October 2010

To Stephen... plaque to remember his bravery

To Stephen... plaque to remember his bravery

A PLAQUE has been unveiled to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Fireman Stephen Maynard on board a tanker ablaze in East London that was out of control. He died at Limehouse Dock on January 25, 1980, when the ship’s hold collapsed

By Mike Brooke

A PLAQUE has been unveiled to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of Leading Fireman Stephen Maynard on board a tanker ablaze in East London that was out of control.

He died at Limehouse Dock on January 25, 1980, when the ship’s hold collapsed.

The plaque was unveiled by London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson at a quayside ceremony on Tuesday.

London Fire Authority Deputy Chairman Bertha Joseph said: “Stephen will always be remembered for his bravery. This memorial will ensure future generations know about the contribution he made helping to keep London safe.”

Stephen, a 26-year-old married man from East Ham, was one of 50 firemen from Poplar and other East London fire-stations tackling the blaze on board the 1,000-ton Rudi M’ petroleum gas tanker at Limehouse Basin.

His crew was being withdrawn to safety as the flames spread out of control—but Stephen slipped and fell back.

Crewmate Steve Debenham turned to pull him clear when the hold collapsed in a mass of flame, forcing him back.

Steve was injured himself, along with two others who were unable to reach Stephen in time.

Eye witness Terry Dietman, who was working at the dock basin, told the East London Advertiser at the time: “There was a sudden gush of smoke from the hold. It was awful. Everyone was so helpless.”

It took eight hours to bring the flames under control, the second blaze in a few days on board the vessel which was being converted.

Stephen Maynard’s funeral drew 500 firemen from all over London to pay tribute. He was the first fireman killed East London for 11 years, since the Dudgeon’s Wharf tragedy at Millwall on the Isle of Dogs in 1969, when six men were flung 90ft to their deaths from the roof of an oil tank being demolished.


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