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Bethnal Green
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File:Bethnal Green stn southwest entrance.JPG

Southwestern entrance

LocationBethnal Green
Local authorityTower Hamlets
Managed byLondon Underground
Number of platforms2
Fare zone2

London Underground annual entry and exit
200510.826 million[1]
200714.095 million[2]
200814.27 million[3]

1946Opened

Lists of stations*DLR
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Bethnal Green tube station is a station on the Central Line of the London Underground in Bethnal Green, East London. It lies between Liverpool Street and Mile End stations, and in Travelcard Zone 2. The station was opened as part of the long planned Central Line eastern extension on 4 December 1946; before that it was used as an air-raid shelter. On 3 March 1943, 173 people were killed in a crush while attempting to enter the shelter.

The station is a fine example of the typical "New Works Programme 1935 - 1940" style adopted by London Transport for its new tube stations. Extensive use is made of pale yellow tiling, originally manufactured by Poole Pottery. This has been replicated during the 2007 modernisation although several panels of original tiling were retained on the platforms. The finishes include relief tiles, showing symbols of London and the area served by the London Passenger Transport Board, designed by Harold Stabler. The station entrances, all in the form of subway access staircases to the subterranean ticket hall, all show the design influences of Charles Holden, the consulting architect for London Transport at this time.

Wartime disasterEdit

Construction of the Central Line's eastern extension was started in the 1930s, and the tunnels were largely complete at the outbreak of the Second World War. While some stretches were used as underground factories, with the advent of the Blitz, Bethnal Green station was used as an air-raid shelter, unofficially at first, and then with official blessing.

By 1943, the numbers using the station as a shelter had dwindled, only rising when retaliatory bombing in response to Royal Air Force raids was expected. This was the case on 3 March 1943, as the British press had reported a heavy RAF raid on Berlin on the night of 1 March. The air-raid Civil Defence siren sounded at 8:17 pm, causing an orderly flow of people down the short flight of steps into the underground booking office area. At 8:27, an anti-aircraft battery a few hundred yards away in Victoria Park launched a salvo of a new type of anti-aircraft rocket. The weapon was secret, and the unexpected, unfamiliar, type of explosion caused a panic and mass hysteria. As the crowd surged forward towards the shelter, a woman, possibly carrying a baby, tripped on the stairs, causing many others to fall. Within a few seconds 300 people were crushed into the tiny stairwell. 172 people were dead at the scene, with one more dying in hospital later; 62 of the dead were children.[4]

File:Bethnal Green Tube.jpg

The disaster was reported in some detail[5] but the demands of wartime censorship required omitting the precise location. An Inquiry was ordered into the causes, but when it concluded, Home Secretary Herbert Morrison only made a brief statement in Parliament. The government was accused of "hushing up" the disaster by a local campaign and two of the victims' families sued Bethnal Green Borough Council for damages. Eventually, Morrison decided to publish the report which had concluded that the poor lighting, lack of a crash barrier (which the local council couldn't afford to erect), and lack of supervision by police or ARP wardens had contributed to the disaster. However, it was stated that the principal cause was the irrational behaviour of the crowd, and there would have been a loss of life, even if precautions had been taken. Morrison had suppressed the report, because he feared it would not be believed. It was not until 50 years after the disaster that a discreet commemorative plaque was erected at the site.

The crush at Bethnal Green is the largest loss of civilian life in the UK in World War II and the largest loss of life in a single incident on the London Underground network. The largest number killed by a single wartime bomb was 68 at Balham, though there were many more British civilians killed in single bombing raids.

The "Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust" was established in 2007 to create a memorial to those who died in the disaster. Planning permission has been granted for a memorial in the form of a bronze staircase with 173 points of light, designed by local architects Harry Patticas and Jens Borstlemann.[6]

Derailment on the Central lineEdit

On 5 July 2007, a Central line train was derailed when it hit a roll of fire blanket which had been blown out of a cross passage between the two tunnels by the strong cross winds.[7]

London Fire Brigade sent 14 fire engines to the scene, including four urban search and rescue vehicles.

Transport linksEdit

The station is served by the London bus routes 8, 106, 254, 309, 388, D3, D6, N8 and N253.

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

GalleryEdit

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Coordinates: 51°31′38″N 0°03′20″W / Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "[". Expression error: Unrecognised punctuation character "[". / Template:Coord/dms2dec; Template:Coord/dms2decar:بيثنال غرين (محطة مترو أنفاق لندن) de:Bethnal Green (London Underground) fa:ایستگاه مترو بثنال گرین fr:Bethnal Green (métro de Londres) gan:北斯諾固玲站 nl:Bethnal Green (metrostation) no:Bethnal Green undergrunnsstasjon

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