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Memorial to victims of Tube disaster is unveiled... almost 40 years later

PUBLISHED: 15:45 31 July 2013

The Thrower family. Stuart Thrower, Claire Garrad, Kenneth Thrower, Robert Thrower.

The Thrower family. Stuart Thrower, Claire Garrad, Kenneth Thrower, Robert Thrower.

Dieter Perry

Families from across the world gathered in Finsbury at the weekend to mark the end of a nearly 40-year battle for a memorial to the victims of one of Britain’s worst train disasters.

Forty-three people were killed after a tube train crashed through buffers and into an end wall. The photograph shows fireman at work in one of the coaches of the six-carriage London Underground train which overran the platform and entered a blind tunnel at Moorgate Station in London. Forty-three people were killed after a tube train crashed through buffers and into an end wall. The photograph shows fireman at work in one of the coaches of the six-carriage London Underground train which overran the platform and entered a blind tunnel at Moorgate Station in London.

More than 100 people watched the official unveiling of the memorial to the 1975 Moorgate Tube crash, in which 43 people were killed after a train ploughed through buffers and into a wall.

A further 74 people were injured on the 8.37am Northern Line service, on February 28, in what is the greatest peacetime loss of life on the Underground.

Among the relatives who attended Sunday’s unveiling were the Thrower family.

Thomas Thrower, then 59, from Islington – a City stock broker and Arsenal season ticket holder – had only got on the front train carriage because he had recently given up smoking, his family this week revealed.

Campaigner Richard Jones Campaigner Richard Jones

In the 1970s smoking coaches, which Thomas usually boarded, were further back as opposed to the smokefree coach at the very front.

His son, Ken, a London cab driver who attended the memorial’s unveiling, also told how Thomas’s wife died of a broken heart just months after his father’s death. No medical explanation was ever given for her death.

Ken, who identified his father’s body after the disaster, said: “At the time it really was hard for the family. It really did my mother in.

“I remember to this day being in my cab when I heard on the radio about the crash. I knew my dad had got the 8.37am and I just knew he’d been involved, and of course he didn’t come home that Friday night and he hadn’t turned up at work.

“That’s why Sunday was so amazing. It was absolutely terrific to see. The incident will always be raw with me until the day I die, but this brought some closure to it. We’ve been waiting decades.”

“It was lovely to see all the other families there who had had similar experiences and to chat with them about it. People had come from other countries.”

One woman had even come from South Africa to commemorate the life of her 29-year-old husband.

Ken originally kicked-off a campaign to raise funds for a memorial after Transport for London (TfL) said the circumstances were not “exceptional” enough to fund it.

He launched a website with son Stuart, who also attended on Sunday, before Richard Jones contacted them and got in touch with Islington Council, which joint-funded the project.

Stuart, 37, paid tribute to his grandfather, who lived in Avenell Road at the time of the tragedy.

He said: “He was a loving, fun chap and would have been along to every single one of the football games I ever played in.

“The whole thing was just a joy to see.” Claire Garrad, Thomas’s grandaughter, said it had brought “closure” for three generations of the family.

Victims’ families gave speeches at the event on Sunday morning before the memorial was unveiled by the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, Sir David William Brewer.

The names of all those who died are etched into the black granite memorial which cost just over £5,000.

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