George Alagiah to unveil Coronation Avenue plaque

Newsreader and Stoke Newington local George Alagiah OBE will next month unveil a tribute to 160 people who were killed when a bomb tore through the Coronation Avenue flats in 1940.

Community members have raised �5,000 for a plaque on Stoke Newington Road to commemorate the bomb’s victims. The plaque was designed by ceramics artist Ned Heywood and paid for through market stalls, mugs and book sales – with a little help from the Gazette.

Local resident Simon Eaton, of Palatine Road, said: “We wanted to make sure the memory of the terrible event did not fade with time. I wrote to the letters page of the Hackney Gazette, and the messages of support poured in.

“We have been amazed at the number of individuals and local businesses willing to get involved, and so grateful for the donations and fantastic financial pledges we received.”

Alagiah will join community leaders and local politicians at the unveiling ceremony on May 15 at 2pm.

He said: “I am a firm believer that a shared history – its highs and lows – can play an important role in binding communities together.”

The names of some of the victims are listed on the memorial to Hackney’s civilian war dead in the nearby Abney Park cemetery. The group now hopes to research and publish a book about Coronation Avenue, as the memory of the bomb blast still affects many who lived through it.

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Camilla Loewe of educational charity TimeLine said: “We discovered that after all these years there are still a lot of people with a personal connection to the event who have unanswered questions.”

Eleanor Kennedy, now aged 90, was turned away from the shelter beneath Coronation Avenue the night the bomb went off because it was full.

She said: “I consider myself very lucky. Those poor people never stood a chance. The memory of that night will live with me forever.”