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Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust

Registered Charity Number 1118618

Artists impression of the proposed memorial
Artists impression of the proposed memorial
Bethnal Green Tube Disaster 1943.
On 3 March 1943 a crowd of people entered Bethnal Green tube station which was used at the time as an air-raid shelter. After the searchlights went on and an anti-aircraft battery a few hundred yards away in Victoria Park launched a salvo of a new type of anti-aircraft rockets the crowd surged forward. Someone tripped on the stairs causing many others to fall. 300 people were crushed into the stairwell within a few seconds, 173 of them died and over 90 were injured. The worst civilian disaster of the 2nd World War.
In a book published last year we recently discovered that there was also a government cover-up after the Bethnal Green tube shelter disaster.

Rick Fountain's book 'Mr. Morrison's Conjuring Tricks' sets out the evidence that in 1941 (so, two years before the disaster) Bethnal Green Council had written to the government asking for permission to alter the station entrance and make it safer if a lot of people wanted to use it. The Government department refused and the Borough Engineer wrote a stronger worded letter explaining that the entrance and stairway needed several measures to make them safer. Again the government refused permission. The Council's borough engineer wrote a third time to plead for permission to alter the entrance, but was once more refused.

The day after the disaster all these measures sought by the Council were put in place. However, Bethnal Green Council was made to keep their earlier letters secret, under the Official Secrets Act. The Council was therefore made to take the blame. Statements given in Parliament suggested that the victims were to blame. This ensured the event was kept as secret as possible. This was partially to prevent the enemy using it for propaganda purposes, but apparently it also saved the Home Secretary of the day, Herbert Morrison, from having to resign. The Mayor of Bethnal Green was not allowed to defend herself and was largely blamed for the tragedy.

The public enquiry, and the summing-up by the judge in the one court case that followed, largely agreed that there had been no panic on the part of the victims so they were not to blame. The final statement about the enquiry was read out in Parliament by another MP as Herbert Morrison had a cold on that day. So no questions could be asked. It was the Hillsborough of its day.

The memorial in spring 2014.
The memorial in spring 2014
We have already built two thirds of the memorial now all we need to do is raise the money to complete the 'stairway' on the top.

Details of how to donate to the trust are given at the bottom of this page and on the 'Appeal / Donations' page. If you have any additional fund raising ideas please let us know.

Get the latest news, visit our Blog! donate here.

posted: 24th November 2014.

Please sponsor a conical

artists impression of the conicals

Can you help us to finish the partially built Bethnal Green tube disaster memorial? We are asking individuals and businesses to sponsor one of the 173 conicals for £200 each. The conicals will be sited in the roof of the ‘stairway’ that will go on top of the existing memorial plinth. They will be all different shapes and sizes to represent the victims whose ages range from 5 months to 78 years old.

Please let us know who you would like to sponsor a conical in memory of, and we will put a list up on our website soon with the victims’ names and the sponsors at the side of them. This matter is urgent as we want the memorial completed before we lose any more of our survivors. We need to raise just £50,000 more to finish it, so can you help us do that quickly now?

Sunlight will shine through the conicals onto the paving below. The surname of all the victims will be carved in large letters around the sides of the teak ‘stairway’ so they can be seen all round that busy junction.

For more information please call our charity office on 01474 702513.

posted: 24th November 2014.

Daily Express article.

blurry photo of Daily Express article on the memorial

The Daily Express published this article about the memorial campaign on Saturday 22nd November 2014.

posted: 15th October 2014.

Cockney Party Night

cockney night

Our cockney night took place on Friday 10th October at The Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club in Pollard Row (just off Bethnal Green Road). There were lots of Pearly Kings & Queens to start the evening off with a good old fashioned sing-along and some saucy cockney rhyming slang songs too.

Read more ...

posted: 14th October 2014.

Kray Twins talk.

Kray talk

Bill Beadle, Vice President of the Whitechapel Society, gave a fascinating talk about the notorious Kray twins and their family at St. John on Bethnal Green Church hall in September. From their parents life to the brothers' gruesome gang warfare, right up to the end of their life in prison, Bill had a great deal of detail to impart.

Kray talk

After the interval there was a Question and Answer session and in the audience was Wayne Lear who had travelled all the way from Paignton to Bethnal Green to hear the talk. He has written a book 'Krays from Cradle to the Graves' (available on Kindle) having studied the family for many years and collected lots of photographs and documentation including birth and death certificates. He was able to fill in a few more details about the life of the gangsters and their family's roots in the East End.

The evening also raised £305.92 for the Bethnal Green tube disaster memorial fund and our thanks go to Bill Beadle for giving up his time for the event.

posted: 14th October 2014.

Bethnal Green Tube collection.

tube collection

Charity chairman Mike Pattison collecting at Bethnal Green underground station. We raised £319.23. So a bit thank you to all our helpers and to those who put money in our buckets.

posted: 27th August 2014.

Jack the Ripper walk

Ripper re-enactment 'victim' lying on wet pavement. Those that braved the weather for the Jack the Ripper guided walk on bank holiday Monday 25th August were rewarded with a very comprehensive talk about Jack the Ripper. In particular we learnt about the man that our guide, Ripper historian, Edward Stow, thought really must have been the evil murderer himself.

Read more ...

posted: 1st April 2014.


Boris Johnson presenting the cheque to our charity for £10,000 to Derek Spicer and Mike Pattison outside City Hall.
Boris Johnson presenting the £10,000
cheque to Derek Spicer and
Mike Pattison outside City Hall
Mayor Boris Johnson has just announced (today 1st April) on the Nick Ferrari show on LBC radio that Transport for London would be giving us £10,000 towards the final part of our memorial.

We now hope that businesses and individuals will match this generosity and help us raise the last £75,000 that we need to be able to complete the Stairway to Heaven Memorial as quickly as possible this year.

For more details please ring the charity office on 01474 702513 or Derek Spicer, our fund-raising Trustee on 07722 162 168.

Sandra (Hon. Sec)

posted: 7th May 2014.

Boris Johnson with survivor Babs Clark.

The Mayors letter

The Mayor Boris Johnson has sent a letter confirming the donation of ten thousand pounds to our charity.

Click on the image to read the letter

posted: 1st April 2014.


The race night on 8th March raised £725.80 with thanks to Ladbrokes for helping us so much with the event.

The bucket station collection at Bethnal Green on 7th March brought in £467.60 and at Liverpool Street tube station on 29th March raised £654.18. So a huge thank you to all our helpers and to everyone that gave donations at these events.

Sandra (Hon. Sec)

posted: 4th March 2014.

71st Anniversary Memorial Service, Sunday 2nd March 2014.

One hundred and seventy three candles were lit as a community united once again to commemorate the worst civilian disaster of World War 2.

On Sunday 2nd March survivors, rescuers and relatives, involved in the Bethnal Green tube shelter disaster, gathered together at St. John on Bethnal Green Church.

They were there to honour the 173 people that died (62 of whom were children), over 90 injured, plus all the Emergency Services personnel, who were affected by the tragedy on 3rd March 1943.

Read more ...

posted: 12th December 2013

Honorary Secretary's report December 2013.

Our Trustee, Anna Reid, is organising a Spot the Ball competition for us. It costs £1 for you to enter and put your cross on the colour photo to show where you think the ball is. Entries must be sent to her by 4th January so please order yours from Derek Spicer on 07722 162 168.

Our month-long photographic exhibition at Bethnal Green library had to be cut short in the last few days as somebody stole one of the photographs (worth £75). However we only missed a few days, but we are sorry for anyone that made the journey in the last couple of days.

The arts and photographic auction that took place on 14th November raised just over £900 and the Festive Fair on 16th raised just over £515. Our thanks to everyone that helped out, everyone that donated paintings and goods, and to everyone that bought photos & painting at the auction or items at the Festive Fair. A special thank-you to our wonderful auctioneer, comedian John Ryan, to photographer Mike Pattison who provided the photographs, and to Bethnal Green library staff and St. John on Bethnal Green Church for allowing us to hold the events there.

We still have some paintings and beautiful hand-painted china to sell. Details of these can be obtained by email if needed or we will try to sell the rest early in the New Year.

The final event of the year is a bucket collection at the East London Design & fashion exhibition at Truman’s Brewery, Brick Lane from 5th to 8th December inclusive.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our supporters and helpers for their support and hard work during the year and to wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a happy and Prosperous New Year. Let’s hope we will be able to complete the last part of the Stairway to Heaven Memorial sometime in 2014.

Sandra (Hon. Sec/Trustee)

posted: 2nd December 2013

2014 Desk Calendars.

alt alt
We now have 2014 desk calendars for sale for £5 each. They have lots of photos on them. If possible please phone Derek Spicer on 07722 162 168 to order yours and if you are in London he will probably be able to meet you somewhere to hand them over. If not, then postage will have to be added.

posted: 1st December 2013

Gatehouse School cheque.

alt On 13th November Gatehouse School in Sewardstone