Today (February 28) in London History – the Moorgate Tube disaster

Not a great day in London history. On February 28, 1975 there was a terrible tube train disaster at Moorgate station. Horrible what happened. That’s the only word for it. But it did happen – earned its place in the annals of London disasters. This podcast tells the story. Briefly.


First of all, our Today in London hors d’oeuvre.

We’ll get to the history in a minute.

And I’ll tell you right now, I’m not looking forward to it.

But today in London – different story. 

Went to the new Bow Street Police Museum today. In Covent Garden. They laid on a special, private viewing for a few of us guides. It’s been open a few months now. Fairly limited visiting hours – well, it’s a lock-up after all. It’s open just three days a week, Friday through Sunday. And pretty limited opening hours. Opens at 11, closes at 4.30. And, yes, I’d recommend it. It’s got great history – after Newgate and the Old Bailey it’s probably the most famous – and most historic – jail and court in this country. You see half a dozen cells – believe me, you wouldn’t want to be locked up in any of them. They’re about 9 ft by 6 ft. The bed’s a hardwood thing that took a thin – maybe an inch and a half deep – and doubtless filthy – mattress. No windows. Heavy, very secure door with one of those ghastly little openings in it. And the inevitable toilet bowl in the corner. Last one was the cooler cell. It was bigger. It was for drunks. Each cell was like a chapter in the history of the station and policing generally. Good visuals, both old prints and newsheets and photographs and some video. And various artefacts. Early police uniforms, rattles – yes, they carried rattles, old lamps, handcuffs, truncheons, what you’d expect. Oh and the famous dock from the Bow Street Magistrates Court. There’s your perfect photo-op. Well, your first photo-op. The second one is you looking a big haggard, a bit depressed, a bit gloomy in one of those with those walls closing in on you. So, yes, it get David’s recommendation. Worth a visit. It just across the street from the Royal Opera House. There’s some point-counterpoint for you.

Ok, onwards and – well – not upwards because this one’s well and truly depressing. Even more depressing than those Bow Street cells. It’s the selection for today’s Today in London History podcast. Today’s February 28th. Our historical event – pig of an event it was – took place on February 28th, 1975. 

It was the Moorgate rush-hour Tube train disaster which killed 41 people and injured dozens more. 

It’s ghoulish to go closely over the particulars so I’m not going to do it.

There was of course an enquiry. It ended without reaching any clear conclusions about what went wrong. Basically the train came into the station at speed and it didn’t slow down, didn’t stop. There was a dead wall out the other end. It was described as solid as a granite cliff. It hit that wall. With predictable results.


Curious the way if you’re a Londoner you never forget the big ones. This one at Moorgate. The terrible fire at King’s Cross station. The Marchioness pleasure craft disaster on the Thames. And so on.

Let’s get away from this. It’s not far enough away. It wasn’t even a lifetime ago. When it lacks the heat-shield of many years between us now and when it happened, history can be pretty vile.

Good night from London on February 28th. Not a great day in recent London history.  In fact, a day of infamy for lots of ordinary Londoners. See you tomorrow. 


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