On Saturday 27th of April 2019, Rainham residents, union members, The Mayor of Havering and Jon Cruddas MP gathered on the green outside Rainham Library on Celtic Farm Road to mark a stone memorial being placed in memory of those killed and injured following an explosion on September 14, 1916, at the Rainham Chemical Works in Ferry Lane. The unveiling was arranged to coincide with International Workers Memorial Day 2019.
Last year an oak tree was planted by Jon Cruddas MP and The Local Trades Council to commemorate those killed because of an explosion at Rainham Chemical Works, Ferry Lane in 1916. The incident claimed the lives of seven men and wasn’t reported at the time because the factory was making munitions for the war effort.
The Barking, Dagenham & Havering TUC have now funded a permanent memorial stone, thanks to a fantastic fundraising campaign by Rainham resident Sean Connolly, to ensure that these men and this tragic event continue to be remembered as part of Rainham’s local history. The campaign took two-years overall to gain support for the memorial stone as well as £1,000 to install it.
Sean Connolly, Rainham resident said: “After a long and protracted campaign to get council approval, firstly for the oak tree, and then again for the memorial stone, it's a huge relief to finally see this tragic event commemorated locally.”
“Having already researched the names on Rainham's war memorial, which can be viewed within the library (or Facebook - Rainham War Memorial Project) it seemed fitting that the 1916 Chemical Works tragedy be commemorated as close as possible to the existing village Clock Tower memorial.”
“The green outside the library was therefore an obvious choice for us, as was combining the commemoration with an International Workers Memorial Day event.”
“As a trades council we planted an oak tree in the grounds of Dagenham Civic Centre during a previous IWMD event which, I might add, involved a lot less red-tape. Lastly, I'd like to thank the local Trade Union branches and residents whose generous donations have made this commemoration possible.”
Jon Cruddas MP said: “Hats off to Sean Connolly for all the work he put in to ensure that the tragic event of September 14, 1916, the workers who lost their lives, and the volunteer firefighters who bravely extinguished the blaze are never forgotten.”
“International Workers Memorial Day was a fitting day to commemorate this piece of local history and I want to thank the Barking, Dagenham and Havering Trades Union Council as well as all the local residents who chipped in to fund the memorial stone."