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Rainham Chemical Works 1916 fire: Campaigners hope to raise £1,000 for permanent memorial

PUBLISHED: 12:00 31 January 2019

Members of the Barking, Dagenham and Havering Trades Union Council with Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas in 2018 when they planted an oak tree and plaque in memory of the workers who died in the fire at the Rainham Chemical Works in 2016. Photo: BD&H TUC

Members of the Barking, Dagenham and Havering Trades Union Council with Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas in 2018 when they planted an oak tree and plaque in memory of the workers who died in the fire at the Rainham Chemical Works in 2016. Photo: BD&H TUC

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Campaigners are fundraising for a memorial stone to commemorate workers who were killed in an explosion at Rainham Chemical Works in 1916.

Members of the Barking, Dagenham and Havering Trades Union Council with Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas in 2018 when they planted an oak tree and plaque in memory of the workers who died in the fire at the Rainham Chemical Works in 2016. Photo: BD&H TUCMembers of the Barking, Dagenham and Havering Trades Union Council with Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas in 2018 when they planted an oak tree and plaque in memory of the workers who died in the fire at the Rainham Chemical Works in 2016. Photo: BD&H TUC

Members of the Barking, Dagenham and Havering Trades Union Council (TUC) and Dagenham and Rainham MP Jon Cruddas are looking to raise £1,000 for a memorial stone which will be placed on the green outside Rainham Library in Celtic Farm Road.

The tragic event at Rainham Chemical Works during the First World War claimed the lives of seven men and wasn’t reported at the time because the factory was making munitions for the war effort.

Sean Connolly from union Unite said: “The Rainham War Memorial was similarly funded by local donations almost 100 years ago.

“We thought it appropriate that Rainham’s residents should once more be given the opportunity to help fund a memorial alongside a number of local trade union organisations.”

A fire broke out in the factory in Ferry Lane on September 14, 1916.

Those living close by escaped in boats on the river and workers in the factory were evacuated.

Romford firefighters bravely rescued many women, however workers suffered varying degrees of injuries.

Mr Cruddas said: “This is an important piece of local history which was lost from memory for many years.

“Hats off to Sean Connolly for all the work he has put in to ensure that this event is properly remembered.

“I’m urging residents to give what they can so that this event, the workers who lost their lives, and the volunteer firefighters who bravely extinguished the blaze are never forgotten.”

If the campaign is successful, members of the TUC will hold an unveiling ceremony on Sunday, April 28 on International Workers Memorial Day.

Fay Hough, the Havering co-ordinator for Mr Cruddas, ran in the Havering Council election. She added: “One of my election pledges last year was to work with residents to establish a stone memorial on the site.

“I was 74 votes off but I’m still working hard for my community.

“We have a proud history in Rainham, and we must never forget the people and events that shaped our area.”

Visit crowdfunder.co.uk/stone-memorial-for-1916 to support the campaign.

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