DCSIMG

Plaque unveiled for victims of 1871 explosion

Stowamrket History Group are unveiling a memorial plaque to the victims of the Stowmarket Guncotton Explosion of 1971.

Stowamrket History Group are unveiling a memorial plaque to the victims of the Stowmarket Guncotton Explosion of 1971.

More than 140 years after the biggest disaster in Stowmarket’s history, a plaque has been installed in memory of the victims.

Just after noon on August 11, 1871, a massive explosion at Stowmarket’s guncotton factory shook the town, killing 28 people and leaving a crater 40ft wide and 10ft deep.

The blast devastated the town, damaging homes hundreds of metres away from the factory.

On Tuesday, a memorial to those killed in the tragedy was finally installed in the town’s Old Cemetary, bought with money raised by the Stowmarket Local History Group, the town council and a donation by Andrew Bingham Funeral Services.

Steve Williams, chairman of the history group, said this was a wrong that had finally been made right.

He said: “A lot of money was raised at the time of the explosion but there would have been questions if that was used to buy a big plaque for those that had died.

“All the money raised wold have gone into repairing the hundreds of damaged houses and to help the families of the victims. Even though they had big lavish memorials in Victorian times, in this instance they didn’t push the idea and it was forgotten.

“Only three of the 28 victims even had their own headstones.

“We felt it was time we filled in an 140-year omission.”

On Tuesday, members of the history group, the Rev Michael Eden, the Rev Leslie Ivory and Mayor of Stowmarket Vera Waspe held a quiet ceremony at the cemetary to mark the installation of the new plaque.

Names of 23 of those killed in the explosion are engraved on the plaque, the other five were buried in villages nearby.

Steve said: “In its long history this is the biggest event that has ever happened in Stowmarket.
“It was long overdue that this wrong was put right.”

 

Comments

 
 

Back to the top of the page