Massey Shaw at Dudgeons Wharf 1969

Massey Shaw at Dudgeons Wharf 1969

At 11.22 am of the morning of the 17th July 1969, the Fireboat Massey Shaw received an emergency call to attend a fire at Dudgeons Wharf, Manchester Road, Isle of Dogs. 

The incident was also attended by Millwall’s Pump Escape and Pump Brunswick Roads Pump and the Foam Tender from East Ham. 

The fire crews had already attended a serious fire at the same site on the 4th July when demolition of the former Oil Storage Tanks had commenced. As the Fireboat made her way to the incident a large explosion was heard and radio traffic confirmed that one of the tanks had exploded. 

On arrival at the scene, the fireboat crew was informed that five of their colleagues and a demolition worker had been killed. Massey Shaw remained on scene to support her land based colleagues, before returning back to her home berth.  

This was the greatest loss of life in the London Fire Brigade from a single incident since WWII.

Within a year of this incident Massey Shaw was decommissioned and spent a number of years awaiting a decision on her fate. Fortunately, she has been restored and is now berth in West India Dock, E14.

50 years on

Today, Wednesday 17 July 2019 firefighters joined families victims of the disaster to mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy. Volunteers David and Bill attended the event with the written piece above detailing Massey’s involvement and were honoured to speak with firefighters and families.

You can find out more about the event and the subsequent changes that resulted from the tragedy on the London Fire Brigade website here: https://www.london-fire.gov.uk/news/2019-news/july/firefighters-commemorated-at-50th-anniversary-of-dudgeon-s-wharf-tragedy/   

David Rogers and Bill Hickin at Dudgeons Wharf 50th Anniversary event