Denmark Place: Why No Memorial For One Of London's Worst Mass Murders?

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By M@ Last edited 24 months ago
Denmark Place: Why No Memorial For One Of London's Worst Mass Murders?
What was left of Denmark Place, just prior to demolition. Image by the author.

Previously we highlighted one of London's most tragic and all-but-forgotten disasters. On 16 August 1980 an arson attack on a club in Denmark Place killed 37 people. The grim event claimed more victims than the King's Cross tube fire of 1987. Indeed, it is the most fatal fire in London's post-war history. To put it in context with more famous crimes, the murderer, John Thompson, killed more people than Peter Sutcliffe, the Moors Murderers, Jack the Ripper and John Christie combined. This all happened just metres from the busy crossroads beneath Centre Point only a few decades ago. Yet there is no plaque or memorial, and very few people recall the disaster.

Journalist Simon Usborne has now tracked down relatives of the victims, many of whom left comments beneath our original article. Writing in The Independent, he gives new details on the events of that night, including a rare photograph of the fire-damaged building. The article also includes the complete list of victims, published for the first time.

We urge you to go and read the story, for this is one of the greatest crimes in London's history. The scene of the fire has now been demolished as part of the Crossrail development. While others call for the preservation of neighbouring Denmark Street's live music venues and shops, there is another, darker chapter in the history of this area that must be remembered. On the back of Simon's article, those who knew the victims have renewed confidence that some form of memorial might be erected on the site, after the redevelopment. As one witness to the fire points out, there's a plaque round the corner to the inventor of the diving helmet, but not a word for the 37 innocent victims who died in Denmark Place. Why?

Last Updated 20 October 2016