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Soil is probed for Second World War memorial

PUBLISHED: 18:00 16 March 2010 | UPDATED: 15:43 05 October 2010

Bethnal Green Tube Disaster Memorial Architects Tom Raymont and Harry Paticas take part in a soil testing before the memorial build can go ahead, Bethnal Green.

Bethnal Green Tube Disaster Memorial Architects Tom Raymont and Harry Paticas take part in a soil testing before the memorial build can go ahead, Bethnal Green.

SPADES and tape measures were out as engineers tested the soil for a memorial to the worst civilian disaster of the Second World War.

By Else Kvist

SPADES and tape measures were out as engineers tested the soil for a memorial to the worst civilian disaster of the Second World War.

The geotechnical engineers were last week probing the soil for the six meter tall bronze memorial to the Bethnal Green tube disaster.

An upside down staircase inside Bethnal Green Gardens will resemble the tube station stairwell where 173 people, mostly women and children, died and form a canopy over the station entrance. Some 90 people were also injured when 300 people were crushed into the stairwell of the station, used as an air raid shelter, when anti aircraft guns were heard on March 3, 1943.

Architect Harry Paticas, who has designed the memorial, explained: "We took soil samples from the memorial site. We need to check the soil can hold the structure. We're still waiting for the laboratory results, but the early signs are that it's looking good.

"The underground walls do cut under the public space around the memorial but not into where the foundations will be."

The engineers were given maps by National Grid showing gas and water pipes running under the memorial site. But Mr Paticas said: "There pipes didn't actually run under the site as shown. It's quite common for pipes put down 50 to 100 years ago not to correspond with the plans."

They also check for soil contamination. "Some soil will need shifting and we need to make sure it is safe to dump elsewhere," he explained.

The Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust is working to raise £600k for the memorial which has been given planning approval by Tower Hamlets Council.


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