Professor dates Regent's Canal blaze snaps - but who took them?

Mystery of who was behind the camera

Who was behind the camera? - Credit: Paul Wood

A university professor has partly solved a mystery about a blazing inferno on the banks of the Regent's Canal almost four decades ago.


Archivist press photographer Paul Wood came across snaps showing the burning Ramsey Spicer warehouse next to the former Bethnal Green gasworks.

Firemen snapped in the roof tackling blazing warehouse in Wharf Place

Firemen snapped on the roof tackling blazing warehouse in Wharf Place - Credit: Paul Wood

The photos were found in an attic in Hackney Wick. Paul appealed through the press for anyone who might know when they were taken.


The mystery remained for five months — until Prof Ruth Dalton at Lancaster University came across the original incident while researching urban redevelopment and contacted us.


"I found your article asking for assistance," she said. "A press cutting shows the view by the canal with the building just a shell — so you have an exact date."

Warehouse blaze 4 decades ago that threatened to spread to Bethnal Green gasworks

Warehouse blaze four decades ago that threatened to spread to Bethnal Green gasworks - Credit: Paul Wood

The original story appeared in the Hackney Gazette on Monday, November 15, 1982.

It read: "Police prepared to evacuate hundreds of sleeping families as a blaze at a toy warehouse threatened to spread to nearby gasometers. 


"Firemen battling to stop flames reaching the gas storage tanks feared a massive explosion."


But the photographer remains unknown — unless a reader knows different.

Peaceful Regent's Canal today... old warehouse and former gasworks now redeveloped

Peaceful Regent's Canal today... old warehouse and former gasworks now redeveloped - Credit: Google

Contact mike.brooke@archant.co.uk if you know their identity.


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