Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Bethnal Green Tube Disaster

"Let me take you back to the second world war. A time of great valour. A time of folklore. To a place in the east end they call Bethnal Green. Battle scarred by the Blitz. Can you picture the scene? There's a tube station all Londoners know. It's between Barmy Park and Paradise Row. It was used as a shelter by families all around. When the siren gave the warning they'd go underground ..." One of the finest examples of using the pop song form to tell a story is Bethnal Green Tube Disaster from Frank Tovey & The Pyros' Grand Union LP. It captures the tale of how on the night of 3 March 1943 173 people were crushed to death in Bethnal Green tube station which was being used as a shelter during the Blitz. The full story is told in Frank's song or in accounts available online. At the time of writing this terrible civilian disaster is topical again as a campaign is being waged to raise money for a fitting memorial to be built for those who died unnecessarily. It can be supported by visiting the Stairway To Heaven Memorial site. Let's also remember Frank Tovey who wrote some of the finest London songs of our time ... The disaster is also remembered in a quite lovely song, 15 (3 March 1943) by the group Resigned on its CD, It's Still My Bethnal Green.

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