This Day In London's History
1874: An almighty explosion in Regents Park
And a chance to quote from 'The London Collection'. Written by Londonistas and out now!
...the animals of London Zoo were rudely awoken by the most powerful explosion ever recorded in the capital up to that point. For reasons never fully explained, a barge laden with gunpowder and petroleum had detonated beneath Macclesfield Bridge – one of the northern entrances to Regents Park – devastating the area. It spelt tragedy for the three crew members, who were killed instantly. More fortunate were a troupe of rare birds who escaped to freedom after their zoo cages were blown open.
Five days later, the canal was reopened. The bridge was soon rebuilt using the original cast-iron columns, which were surprisingly free of damage. You can still see them today. Although there’s no sign of blast damage, there are a number of deep grooves worn into their outer faces. These were carved long ago by harness ropes rubbing against the insides of the columns. When the bridge was rebuilt, the columns were turned around, so now the grooves face outwards.London Fact Of The Week
This wasn't the only occasion on which London Zoo birds have made a bid for freedom. In 1965, Goldie the lethargically named golden eagle enjoyed 12 days in Regents Park by breaking out from the zoo. After trips to Tottenham Court Road and Camden Town, he was eventually recaptured when he grew weak through hunger. A similar state of the 'munchies' often sets in with us after a trip to Camden.
Londoner of the Week
Temporary Londoner, the Hoff. Like any good tourist, he's really trying to do everything in as little time as possible. Appearing drunk on GMTV (well, you'd have to), chatting up the host, bribing a DJ (allegedly), even flirting with Diana. What a guy.
One Thing You Must Do In London This Week
Next Sunday, get down to Cable Street. They'll be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the 'battle' in which fascist leader Oswald Moseley and his blackshirts were repulsed by local residents. As well as music, fetes and all the other paraphernalia, there will be an unmissable chance to chat to some of the people who witnessed that legendary day.
Photo of Macclesfield Bridge by M@