Victoria Park fireworks display commemorates Blitz

BILLED as one of the most spectacular fireworks displays in London the pyrotechnic extravaganza in Victoria Park this year will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of the Blitz which devastated whole swathes of the East End.

The display will light up the skies over Victoria Park on Sunday November 7.

Last year’s free event with a Great Balls of Fire theme attracted 50,000 people and Tower Hamlets council picks up the �80,000 tab although it is attended by many people from Hackney as well as Tower Hamlets residents.

It is organised by Tower Hamlets arts and events team and Walk the Plank and this year’s theme “Remember, Remember” will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the start of the Blitz - the sustained World War Two bombing campaign over London.

Steve Murray, head of arts and events at Tower Hamlets Council said: “We acknowledge its enormous impact of the Blitz on the landscape and communities of East London and pay tribute to all those affected by the 1943 Bethnal Green Tube disaster.”

The disaster claimed the lives of 173 civilians at Bethnal Green tube station at the junction of Roman and Cambridge Heath roads when a woman tripped as she made her way into the air raid shelter and other people rushing to take shelter were suffocated.

It was the largest civilian disaster of the war and campaigners including survivor Alf Morris are collecting funds to erect a memorial in Bethnal Green Gardens to those who died.

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The Stairway to Heaven Trust charity will be collecting funds at the firework display for the memorial which needs another �200,000.

Mr Morris was just 12 when he got caught up in the crush and lost family members in the disaster.

He said: “An air-raid warden called Mrs Chumley, I’ll never forget her name, grabbed me by my hair. I was hollering and hollering as it hurt, but she didn’t let go and eventually pulled me free by grabbing me from under my arms. Many of my school friends were not so lucky.”

The fireworks display takes place between 7.30 and 8.15pm. There will be a soundtrack reminiscent of the war-time era and the sounds of sirens will be used to mark the beginning of the display.

The main entrance is via Grove Road, and people are encouraged to travel by public transport as there is no public parking.

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