Wednesday, 23 April 2014

The Great Faversham Explosion

I have been looking through a collection of several hundred postcards of cemeteries, graveyards, memorials and funeral scenes that I had collected together over the past 30 years. They are contained in two large albums and total just short of 1,000 individual items. I was pleased to find the postcard published here which shows the mass grave of the victims of the worst explosion in the history of the British explosives industry.

On the reverse is a letter from William to his sweetheart Emily who lived at 11 South Road, Faversham. He told her:

"This is a photo of the grave where they buried some of the men killed down the Gun Cotton. My chum Harry Anderson, who you used to see me with before I kept company with you, was killed."
According to Wikipedia, at 2.20 pm on Sunday April 2, 1916, a huge explosion ripped through a gunpowder mill at Uplees, near Faversham, when a store of 200 tons of TNT was detonated after some empty sacks caught fire.
Being a Sunday, no women were at work. One hundred and fifteen men and boys, including all members of the Works Fire Brigade, were killed. The bodies of seven victims were never found and 108 corpses were buried in a mass grave at Faversham Cemetery on April 6.
The factory was in a remote spot in the middle of open marshes, next to the Thames coastline. The explosion was heard as far away as Norwich and Great Yarmouth. In Southend-on-Sea, domestic windows were blown out and two plate-glass shop windows were shattered.
William's Postcard

The Mass Grave as it is Today
Published under Creative Commons, courtesy of Pam Fray

2 comments:

Julie said...

Interesting story.

Laurie said...

Thanks, Julie.

Welcome to the Graveyard Detective

An illustrated look at the World of Graveyards and Cemeteries. There are many Stories behind the Stones that Stand in them. Who knows what we might find?

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