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164. The London Beer Flood

03 Jul

The street before the flood

In St. Giles, a parish of London, lay the Meux and Company Brewery. Inside were housed many several large vats filled to the brim with frothy beer. On 17 October 1814, a vat containing 610,000 litres of beer ruptured. This profusion of beer began a chain of events, the ensuing wave damaged the other vats and caused them too to empty out their contents. The rampant volume of beer increasing with each ruptured vat. The total amount of beer which burst from the distillery was 1,470,000 litres.

The wave of beer tore down Tottenham Court Road and damaged not just two homes but also destroyed the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub. The first casualty was within the pub, a young Eleanor Cooper; the destruction of the wall caught her off guard. Unable to run the 14-year-old employee was trapped beneath the rubble.

Also near the brewery was the poor accommodation of the St. Giles rookery. Many families there lived in basement rooms, these rooms were breached and quickly filled with beer. Most of the occupants escaped, but a further eight drowned. Thus bringing the total death count to nine people claimed by the London Beer Flood.

In the aftermath no blame was placed for the disaster, the court ruled it be an ‘Act of God.’ In 1922, 108 years after the flood, the brewery was demolished. Part of the site is now occupied by the Dominion Theatre.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Articles

 

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