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17 October 2008

On this day in history: London Beer Flood, 1814

At about 6pm on Monday 17th October, 1814, an explosion rocked the West-End of London.
A giant vat full of fermenting porter (a dark coloured malt based beer), on top of the Meux's Brewery Co Ltd, violently burst releasing over half-a-million litres of liquid. This started a domino-effect as the other vats in the brewery also exploded. A flood of over one-million litres of beer consumed the nearby slum streets of the parish of St. Giles.

The deluge demolished two houses and damaged the Tavistock Arms public house on Great Russell Street, resulting in the death of 14-year-old barmaid Eleanor Cooper. Another eight people also lost their life in the disaster, most of them drowned, some of them died from injuries inflicted by the torrent, and one later died of alcohol poisoning. Tragically, many bereaved families were so impoverished that they exhibited their dead in return for a fee.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I have never heard of that before. Can you imagine? Thanks, I really enjoy your blog!

Borkiman said...

Yep, the story was new to me too. If I remember correctly this flood would have killed more people than the Great Fire of London, which is even more bizarre.

Thanks for the comment