The Bethnal Green Memorial Project

The disaster memorial at night, March 2018The disaster memorial at night, March 2018

The Bethnal Green Memorial Project is dedicated to collecting and preserving records relating to the Bethnal Green underground shelter disaster of 3 March 1943, and its aftermath. We now have recorded more than 30 interviews with survivors, and witnesses and relatives of those who died and digitised documents and photographs from the families of those who were involved. The project is also deeply involved in making the history of the the disaster more widely known and complementing the information given at the new Bethnal Green Disaster Memorial in honouring the 173 men, women and children who died in the disaster, their families, rescuers and those who survived.

A dedicated team of staff and volunteers have produced an oral history book and two audio trails designed to be experienced at the memorial in Bethnal Green Gardens. These are free and available from this website along with extensive education resources for schools and youth groups, an exhibition and an oral history archive of interviews with survivors and witnesses. The team have given more than 50 talks to community groups and the project has now directly reached over 10,000 people. Our overall aim is to commemorate, consider and better understand the disaster and the impact it had on so many people, many of whom were told by the authorities not to speak about it.

The project is based at the University of East London and funded generously by the Heritage Lottery Fund. We have been working in close partnership with the Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust and the Bishopsgate Institute with additional support from the Raphael Samuel History Centre and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Prayers at the memorial, 75th anniversary, March 2018Prayers at the memorial, 75th anniversary, March 2018

A plaque for the audio trails has now been installed on the railings at Bethnal Green Underground station and up to 30 audio players can be borrowed free of charge from Bethnal Green Library, a short walk from the memorial site. The players are loaded with the adult and child friendly versions of the audio trail. The memorial is situated next to the stairway going down to Bethnal Green Underground Station, on the intersection of Roman Road and Cambridge Heath Road (East London).

Latest news: Full interview recordings with survivors, rescuers, friends and relatives are now available to hear online in the 'stories to remember' section of the website. These include interview summaries and transcripts. A PDF version of the project oral history book is now available for free download. The final phase of construction of the memorial was completed in December 2017 and it is now open to the public. For the 75th anniversary of the disaster images of many of the victims are currently being projected on the memorial after dark until 9th March 2018.