A memorial was unveiled earlier today to commemorate the 43 people who died in the Moorgate railway accident that took place on the 28th February 1975.

Moorgate Train Accident Memorial

The crash took place at the height of the morning rush hour at Moorgate tube station on what was at the time a Northern Line terminus platform. A southbound train heading into the platform failed to stop and smashed into the wall at the end of the run-over tunnel.

The reason for the accident has never been fully proved — with speculation ranging from driver action to faults on the train.

Extracting people from the tunnel proved to be an exceptionally difficult task, and it took 13 hours to remove all the survivors. It took four days for the emergency services to reach the body of the train driver, Leslie Newson. There is a suspicion that the train driver may have committed suicide — although I personally doubt it — and many of the older tube drivers seem very reluctant to discuss the accident, which I suspect is down to the lingering doubt that one of their own could have done this.

The tunnel was built for mainline trains, but at the time was being used by London Underground’s 1938 era tube trains, which magnified the effect of the accident as there was enough space for the third carriage behind to ride up over the first and cause even further carnage.

Chatting to one of the former policemen who was there, I learnt that the heat was such that emergency services were limited to 15 minute shifts in the tunnel — until a company volunteered a mobile refrigeration plant that could blow cold air through pipes all the way down into the tunnels from a surface unit.

Although the largest loss of life on the Underground during peacetime, it has never had a memorial to mark the event, until today.

Moorgate Train Accident Memorial

The memorial is itself down to the campaigning efforts of Historian Richard Jones, who helped raise awareness and then the funds for the black stone slab which has been inscribed with the names of those who died. He also lead the unveiling events, which were attended by family of those who died, as well as representatives of the emergency services who struggled in the hot dark tunnels to extract the injured from the crumpled remains of the train carriages.

Attending the ceremony was also the Lord Lieutenant of London, and a representative of the Bishop of London who lead the brief dedication.

Mr Jones then read out the names of all those who died to conclude the service.

Moorgate Train Accident Memorial

The memorial is just up the road from the train station in a nearby park — although a plaque will be installed in the station itself next year on the 39th anniversary of the accident.

A BBC News report from the day is here (might need a browser plugin)

A few more photos here, and for licensing rights here.

Moorgate Train Accident Memorial

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34 comments on “Unveiling a memorial to the Moorgate tube crash
  1. Andrew says:

    A nearby park? Isn’t that Finsbury Square?

  2. Stilted Banter says:

    Long overdue; can’t believe this dreadful disaster has been left without any formal memorial for so long. But … is that Arial? And why is the typography so dreadful, with lousy kerning, uneven spacing and ugly, inconsistent capitalization? And why are the victims’ names given in that school register format of surname-comma-first name? When I look at this memorial I should think of the victims of the Moorgate disaster. Instead I think, ‘what a horrible ugly graceless thoughtlessly undignified mess of a memorial’, and I resent that.

    • martin says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one to have thought that. It’s a shame, because, as you say, I ought to be remembering those who lost their lives; Not Wondering Why The Text Has A Capital Letter At The Start Of Each Word.

  3. Eileen Fleming says:

    I believe that this memorial is long overdue for the 43 people that died in such a terrible way. I think that most of them were in the first carriage and only a few came out of that carriage alive. Luckily for me I was one of them. It is something that I do not like to remember but it is part of my life.
    Unfortunately I didnot know that this memorial was being campaigned for otherwise I would have been there to remember those that didnot make it like myself.
    If anyone wants to contact me about any information please do not hesitate to do so and I will be as helpful as possible of what I can remember. My name at the time was Eileen Smith.

    • Dylan Glenister says:

      Hello Eileen,
      It was a lovely suprise to read your post on this site. I carried out a personal project in 1994 for 2 years about Moorgate and all things surrounding the event, purely because I have a strong passion for the history of London Transport and the social and personal history of events at Moorgate too. I try to gather as much information I can, not for any profit or commercial motive, but from a genuine interest. I am a motorman (or ‘Train Operator’ as we’re now known!) on the Piccadilly line, and have been driving for six years, working on LT stations for 8 years before that.
      With all due respect, I would be very grateful if you would consider maybe contacting me with a view to discussing Moorgate? I fully understand should you wish not to. I have not met or conversed with a survivor from the accident as yet and would considered it to be a huge privilage to do so.
      With best regards,
      Dylan Glenister

    • Emma Patricio says:

      Hello Dylan,
      Seems like things are going well for you, I’m so glad! With love
      Emma x

  4. MzFitz says:

    Remember this vividly (my birthday, 16). Our maths teacher stopped class and we all said a prayer (Catholic school).
    This may raise more questions than answer, but I knew a driver on the Northern Line at that time. He said the driver was known for reading books while driving between stations. His opinion (of many, many years on the line) was that the driver thought he was further back the line, didn’t expect to be at that station, didn’t realise he was at the terminus. Apologies if this causes anyone anguish.

    • Anthony Bright says:

      Mr Fitz. Your friend was referring to the Tooting Broadway collision where a train reversing in the siding failed to stop and hit the end wall. An opened sci fi book was found in the driver’s cab. The Moorgate collision occurred on the Northern City Line not the Northern Line. This Tooting Broadway incident was the second one. In the first one the driver survived but lost a leg.

  5. Richard Jones says:

    I am so glad people are slating how bad the memorial looks. I’m pretty sure your memorial was a lot better……oh sorry it was just me who put one up for this disaster in 38 years. If you are not going to help these families then keep your rants to yourself.

    • Annette Byczkowska says:

      I appreciate what you have done which you did not have to do. You have had the dedication to see this through. I am not sure if you will get this message please contact me for news of LT placing a plaque at the end of the month at Moorgate Station. Perhaps you know of this already but get in touch please. I am the sister of Antony BYCZKOWSKI who died in this awful tragedy. Annette.

  6. Janet Goddard says:

    Richard…well done for this…I am delighted that a memorial has now been unveiled to recognise those lost in such a horrific accident. I am very sad that we knew nothing about it until after the unveiling as my Mother lost her sister in it and would have desperately wanted to have attended the event. Nonetheless…

    Richard has done so well and many of us are delighted to see a memorial at last.

  7. Kim Donovan says:

    As the sister in law of Janice Donovan can any body help us with a query?
    We was not notified as a family about the memorial ceremony even thou we are still living at the same address as the time of the crash.

    Was any one else notified and how?

    • Janet Goddard says:

      Hi Kim (Donovan)…we are at the same address too and we knew nothing about it…we only heard later on and went to see it and put flowers there after the event…but we were really sad not to have know prior to the event as we would have attended…

  8. Dylan Glenister says:

    This memorial is a superb and fitting tribute to those who lost their lives at Moorgate. Richard has carried out what LT should have done years ago, and all credit to him for doing so.
    My heart goes out to all those who never made it home that day, and in particular Motorman man Newson and his family.

    Dylan Glenister, Motorman, Piccadilly line.

    • Les Yackiminie says:

      Hi Dylan, I have lost your Tel No, and E-Mail Address, can you please drop me a line so I can discuss something with you.

      Many thanks

      Les

      P.S. sorry to interrupt this thread but I tried everything else.

  9. Lidia says:

    I was at the unveiling and it was a very moving experience. I had no direct involvement with the event itself but I felt so sorry for those directly affected. If all folk can do is criticise a memorial’s lettering, it probably says more about them than anything else. Richard has worked so hard for this to happen and it is indeed a fitting tribute to motorman Newson and the other poor people who lost their lives that day. Eternal shame on LU.

  10. DJ says:

    Well Done Richard, You deserve a special medal from HRH The Queen, & something special from the lazy louts who have done nothing to help us in the last 38.5 years, They all deserve to be heavily prosecuted or BERWICK STOCKS.They sorted out Hillsborough, so it’s time they worked on Moorgate.Today not 2051 as has been stated for the full truth etc to be confirmed.as to what did go wrong that morning, (Friday 28th February 1975 at 8.46am)

    • Anthony Bright says:

      In his 2010 Mail Online article, Laurence Marks states that four weeks after the crash he set out to find the names of those involved. In this he was assisted by the coroner who ‘allowed’ him to steal the inquest transcript, have it copied, and then returned it to the coroner’s office safe. This would have been the beginning of April, 1975. I have written to Mr Marks at a care of address given in the 2012 edition of Who’s Who asking if it was a generalised time line or accurate and that if it is accurate further asking if he copied the actual witness statements and it is these that are closed documents until 2051 or perhaps even longer. I asked him if I could scrutinise the said statements. Answer came there none so I had a copy of the letter hand delivered to the C/O address two weeks ago. A gentleman at the C/O address said the people there had moved seven months or so ago with no forwarding address. The reason why I believe Mr Marks may have the witness statements rather than the transcript is because the inquest did not start until the 14th April, 1975. Does anyone know how to contact Mr Marks?

    • Mr Rob Harriman says:

      As an ex tube driver 15yrs, i feel that a re view of this woeful incident should be opened.

      Rob Milton Keynes

  11. Gary Thomas says:

    Dylan
    I was the second police officer on scene on that fateful day I was barely out of training school when the disaster happended. Myself and my collegue Robert Hennessey also a City of London Police officer arrived seconds before I did on his motorcycle and together we made our way down to the platform.
    I am the officer described in the text above talking about the heat.
    if you wish to contact me or anyone else my email address is gary6horncastle@hotmail.co.uk

  12. Cathy Higgins says:

    My sister, Rosemarie Mansi, died in The Moorgate crash and was the last to be brought out before the driver. My mother and brother both remained in the area, my mother at the same address for most of her life so it’s surprising that we had no contact. We certainly would have attended, had we known. Having said that, I would like to express heartfelt thanks to those who obviously worked so hard to make this memorial happen, especially Richard Jones.

  13. Tine Dorothy says:

    A disaster which will stay with me for the rest of my life and I am not even a victim, so you can imagine what it does do mentally to the ones who lost a dear friend or perhaps a relative.

    I heard of it very soon as I was working at the time for BP on the 9th floor (old building). On the 7th was medical and this department asked us all to come down in order to give blood. Of course, I rushed down with so many others. The queues were enormous and I and others were send away as they had (for that moment) enough employees to donate blood.
    And BP told us that we had to phone our family to say that we were safe. As I am Dutch and all my family lives in Holland I did not think that I had to. But they told me that I should aswell as my family could have heard it already on the news and because of that they might start to get worried. So I did, of course.

    A year or more – after this disaster – I could still hear the noise of the ambulances in my head. And in that week the news was shouted around. Every hour or so a new newspaper came out with only bad news. And those people running up and down the stairs continually I don’t forget either. It was complete chaos. I did speak to one of the survivors. The one was working for BP and told us that he or she had been sitting in that train. Luckily the one had not been sitting in the front but was thrown around even so. No injuries, as I can remember. As this happened so near the building from BP you can imagine that we were all utterly shocked. And so relieved that we weren’t in that train but we knew that collegues of us were.

    Soon after (March) I went back to Holland and have lived there ever since. But when I told them here about that noise (sirenes) of the ambulances in my head, they did not understand at all. Normally you hear it only once at a time. I heard it almost every minute of the day (working hours).

    Are there more people who did have the same as me? And that policewoman, I remember aswell (from the news). A piece of her leg was amputated. My thoughts go specially to her and all the others who died or got wounded.

  14. Scott says:

    Rip Janet Cook an auntie I never meet un fortunate for me you was taken 2 years before I was born.i always knew they way you was taken but never really knew.i found this site and memorial And your name is ther 3or4down thanks to the people that pushed and put it in place it’s really pretty and says a lot Scott Cook aka Taylor

  15. Richard Jones says:

    The research into this disaster is still going on for me to gather as much information as possible for my book. I would very much like to talk to as many people involved as I can – relatives of victims, survivors, emergency services and other eyewitnesses.

    I can be reached on shipwreckdata@yahoo.co.uk

    or via the Moorgate facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/268167592246/

    Many thanks

    • terry says:

      I remember the day very well. I was 17 at the time of the accident and knew two mothers of friends who died in the crash. They lived on roads very close to Southgate Road N1. One lady left a husband and a 14 year daughter and I recollect him in our house that evening with his head in his hands, distraught and sobbing uncontrollably. He never recovered from the trauma of that day. They should all be remembered.

    • Marion Coward says:

      Dear Terry-
      I was a teacher at Barnsbury Girls School at the time of the accident and it touched our lives as one girl lost her brother and another Emer O Brien, lost her mum( Mary O Brien). I never taught Emer, but remember her vividly, as she was quite a character. After her mother’s death, she went to pieces , and I don’t consider that our school helped her enough. Am still teaching and know that these days , she would have received a lot more support.
      I have never forgotten the accident and it haunts me to this day. It was one of the reasons that I stopped working at the school and moved on.
      If you are in touch with Emer please send her my best wishes. I doubt if she would remember me, but I was Miss Cornish, an Art teacher. Tell her that I still grieve for her loss and hope that she has found the courage to move on and make the best of her life.

  16. Mikeya says:

    A second memorial plaque has been unveiled, this at Moorgate station, to the tragic events of 28 February 1975.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/36844288@N00/12842438793/in/photostream/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/36844288@N00/12842769974/in/photostream/

  17. Sir DJMAC says:

    I must thank Richard Jones & the driver of the Emergency tender who have both laid memorials, They both should be specially honoured for what they have kindly done, Well Done to both of you, I hope LT rot to hell.What have they done? & also the same goes to our Government Louts! Let them also rot.
    Does anyone have any pictures of the train ?

  18. sarah powell says:

    I am looking into the history of this even. My mother was 6 months pregnant with me and dreamt of this accident the night before it happened, she was very upset as it was a very vivid dream and she could clearly see a police woman with her legs crushed. My Mum turned on the tv early that morning feeling unsettled by the dream, and the accident happened and broke the news. My mum seeing the event she had dreamed about on the news went into labour with me. I was born not breathing and very very small but im 39 now! and im a nurse. I would love to hear from anyone involved in this tragic incident.

    • Kim says:

      I dreamt of the tragedy too. If I am not mistaken there was an article printed later saying many people had done so.

  19. Andrew Cooper says:

    My brother PC 664 David Cooper London City Police was 1 of the 1st people on the scene at the Moorgate Distaster. He was left in charge to identify the bodies & inform their relatives . For which he received the Freedom of the City of London.

  20. Andrew Cooper says:

    My Brother who was in the London City Police was 1 of the 1st on the scene . He ended up dealing with the victims & the victims relatives. He was made a Freeman of the City of London for all his work.

  21. Anna Kelley says:

    Hi,
    I know I’m adding to a discussion that is several years past but it’s worth a try to see whether I get any responses.

    My mum was a nurse at The London Hospital and treated casualties from the scene. She wouldn’t ever speak about the events but I know that they troubled her deeply for the rest of her life. I wondered whether there was any record anywhere of the medical staff involved or whether they were recognised for the roles they played?

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