Tuesday, 7 July 2009


Photos taken 07/07/2005

Aldgate roundabout, looking towards Aldgate tube station

TV outside broadcast vans arrive and have to park up outside. The entrances to Aldgate East tube station are closed.

Four years ago as I turned right into Whitechapel High Street opposite the Whitechapel Hospital, the first rapid response emergency vehicle was setting out, sirens blaring, and the emergency helicopter was taking off from its roof. I thought there must have been a serious road traffic accident. It was just after 9am. By the time I reached my office right over Aldgate East Underground entrance, the sirens were non-stop. Rumours were rife: there had been a serious incident underground at Tower Hill station, it was a power surge, a Tube train crash. Helicopters and sirens were relentless. Whitechapel High Street was blocked off at Aldgate roundabout. Our doorkeepers got out a portable TV from somewhere. The news of the first bombing came through, then the next and the next. Disbelief. Then the bus at Russell Square. It felt like a war zone. It was. By 10.00 mobile networks were down and landlines were intermittent, the speculation being that security services had closed the networks, though this was later denied. One colleague who had been on the bombed Aldgate train in the first explosion later described the horror of being guided along the tracks past the injured and dying in the dark of the tunnel. He wasn't able to return to work for many months and took early retirement the following year, still traumatised. My line manager lost his beautiful niece. Today a permanent memorial to the 52 murder victims was unveiled in Hyde Park.

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