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This week 60 years ago: Two Clerkenwell fire station crew members die in Smithfield Market disaster

PUBLISHED: 08:56 31 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:25 31 January 2018

Clouds of smoke drift over the Smithfield meat market in London after an underground fire at the Union Cold Storage Company.

Clouds of smoke drift over the Smithfield meat market in London after an underground fire at the Union Cold Storage Company.

PA Archive/PA Images

Two hero firefighters from Clerkenwell Fire Station died in the Smithfield Market disaster.

Islington Gazette: January 31, 1958Islington Gazette: January 31, 1958

Three hundred people turned out for the funeral processions, starting outside the Rosebery Avenue station, of station officer Jack Fourt-Wells and fireman Richard Stocking.

The market blaze, just outside Islington’s Charterhouse Street boundary, started at the Union Cold Storage Co and burned for three days.

The fire was so bad that about 1,700 firefighters, and 389 fire engines, were called.

Smoke and steam rise in white clouds as jets of water are directed through the empty windows into the shell of the Union Cold Storage Company at Smithfield Market, London.Smoke and steam rise in white clouds as jets of water are directed through the empty windows into the shell of the Union Cold Storage Company at Smithfield Market, London.

Mr Fourt-Wells and Mr Stocking lost their lives in the cold storage basement in the early stages of the battle.

They were wearing inadequate breathing apparatus, and their deaths prompted London Fire Brigade to overhaul its oxygen equipment and safety procedures.

Dozens more were injured. Millions of gallons of water were squirted, and the damage amounted to £2million: the equivalent of £44m today, according to the Bank of England’s inflation calculator.


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