Today marks a totemic 5th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on London’s transport – and naturally lots of people will be reminiscing on the events of that day.

Obviously, when the attacks took place, there was the usual confusion and eventual realisation of what had happened. At work we followed the news as it unfolded during the day, with rumour and misinformation slowly being replaced with cold hard facts.

It was slightly closer to home than for many as one of our work colleagues was on a train following one which had been attacked – and he was quite shaken when he finally made it to the office.

For me though, the biggest memory of the day wasn’t the events themselves, which have slowly blurred into an overall impression of the day – but the journey home.

At the time, I worked in Nth London, and live in Docklands, but was also recovering from a serious illness which meant I was physically weak and needed a walking stick to help me walk.

With all the trains and buses shut-down, like most Londoners, I was faced with a very long walk to get home again. The office, quite naturally sent most of the staff home early.

Although the lack of buses was an obvious issue – it wasn’t until I got down to Oxford Street that the sheer surreality of it all finally hit home. The shops were all open, the crowds were as normal – but something was very strange – and then it hit me, Oxford Street was half empty due to the lack of buses. That was probably the first moment that I really saw the difference the bomb attacks were having on the background landscape of the city.

I was slightly lucky as by the time I got down towards Charing Cross, they were just starting to resume overland trains, and I was able to get to Greenwich, then walk home from there.

Thanks to being unable to walk at a normal pace, a trip I can today walk in a couple of hours took about five hours all told.

However, as I got home, I was uplifted by a sight at the riverside, where a fleet of tourist boats were queuing up at a pier they never stop at to collect stranded office workers from Canary Wharf and help them get into the centre of town.

That was a nice sight to end a dark day.

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5 Comments

  1. TRT

    I got one of those paddle-steamers up from London Bridge to Westminster and walked to Euston via Trafalgar Square, Charing Road and Tottenham Court Road. It was deserted, shops closed, a handful of people, and not much traffic beyond a much higher than usual number of black cars full of burly men whizzing past at great speed.

  2. Paddle steamers? That would have been an interesting sight :)

    I hadn’t yet moved to London, but was on my way down to visit my (then) girlfriend. My train from Glasgow stopped short at Watford Junction, and I had a rather epic four hour schlep on various buses to Turnpike Lane, via Borehamwood, Potters Bar, and Arnos Grove, based mostly on guesswork, since the mobile network was patchy and Journey Planner couldn’t cope with the strain.

  3. It is quite unimaginable that the London I visited had suffered such a terrible thing. I was in a bar with friends from Jersey in another Australian state as the news came over large screen tvs at about 9.30 Australian time. We did not realise the seriousness of it until the next day.

  4. Five years ago today I was attending a memorial service to Peter Benenson, founder of Amnesty International. The empty Trafalgar Square was spooky. Annie Lennox arrived several hours late but we waited for her. The speeches were adjusted to reflect the day. AFterwards, those of us from south of the river made our way home again and I phoned my husband to say I was alright. ‘I never thought you weren’t’ he said grumpily – haha!

    best wishes
    Liz Verran

    PS: the final 7 is because numerologists add the numbers, so 2005 = 7

  5. Sorry – forgot the heading = 7/7/7

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