A fraction after 7pm on the 9th February 1996, the IRA ended their 17-month ceasefire with a huge explosion that ripped through the South Quays area of London’s Docklands.

Today, 15 years later and a lot has changed in the area, and while many of the buildings have been repaired or converted into different use, there is still one building standing empty after all these years, waiting for a new tenant.

The old South Quay’s DLR station has been torn down and a newer shiny version built a hundred yards or so away – not because of the bomb damage, which was minimal to the DLR – probably because it was a “thin structure” and the blast just went through it – but because the ongoing popularity of the area means they had to enlarge the station for more passengers.

The IRA may have tried to strike at the commercial heart of Docklands as it was at the time, but it is clear that had no impact on people’s desire to live and work in the area. They failed in that goal at least.

At the time I worked in what was part of the area controlled by the Docklands Development Corporation – but was on the other side of the river – in the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre. It was the late night opening for the building, and I remember we had a load of the security guards in for a gossip when a huge shudder ran through the entire building.

Over a mile away and the blast was still strong enough to shake the building.

The security guards ran out to find out what was going on and it became clear within a few minutes from the TV news being shown in a local electrical retailer what had happened.

Today I live in a block of flats right next to the ones that had all their windows blown out by the bomb blast, although since then a veritable forest of new towers have gone up around the area, so I doubt that if today’s terrorists were to carry out a similar attack that the residential areas would be as badly affected. Although naturally, vastly more workers would be caught up any explosions, and only a few years ago – disguised as plant containers – a number of bomb blast protections were mounted along many of the pavements in Canary Wharf – just in case someone were to try and drive a van into a building.

There is a video clip of from the following day on the BBC News website.

James McArdle was jailed in 1998 for the bombing but later freed under the Good Friday Agreement. 39 people were taken to hospital for treatment. Local newsagents Inam Bashir and John Jeffries were killed.


Be the first to know what's on in London, and the latest news published on ianVisits.

You can unsubscribe at any time from my weekly emails.

Tagged with: , ,

This website has been running now for over a decade, and while advertising revenue contributes to funding the website, it doesn't cover the costs. That is why I have set up a facility with DonorBox where you can contribute to the costs of the website and time invested in writing and research for the news articles.

It's very similar to the way The Guardian and many smaller websites are now seeking to generate an income in the face of rising costs and declining advertising.

Whether it's a one-off donation or a regular giver, every additional support goes a long way to covering the running costs of this website, and keeping you regularly topped up doses of Londony news and facts.

If you like what you read on here, then please support the website here.

Thank you

  1. I remember that day well. I heard the blast 9 miles away!

    Also one of the guys that was killed I use to visit the newsagents he work in across the road from where the bomb was set off.

    A sad day that was.


  2. One of my best mates worked down there at the time, just a few buildings away – his stories about it chill me to this day

1 Pings/Trackbacks for "15 years since the Docklands bombing"
  1. […] quickly time passes – IanVists reminds me today is 15 years since the IRA bomb at South Quay station on the Isle of Dogs, killing the two men who ran the newspaper stall and causing millions of pounds worth of damage. As […]

Home >> News >> Miscellaneous