max temp: 11°C

min temp: 10°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Stowmarket: Tragic factory explosion victims remembered

14:00 06 March 2014

The memorial plaque in Stowmarket

The memorial plaque in Stowmarket's Old Cemetary in memory of the victims of the explosion at Stowmarket's guncotton factory in the town. L-R: Sue Williams, Jeannette Baldry, Darren Dordoy, Heather Salmon, Annette Beresford, Steve Williams, with 18 month old Elijah Hyland.


A devastating explosion which killed 28 people over 140 years ago has finally been marked by a memorial.


The disaster at Stowmarket’s guncotton factory in 1871 left a crater 40ft wide and 10ft deep.

Buildings hundreds of metres away were damaged by the explosion which is arguably the biggest tragedy to occur in the town’s history.

Although money was raised at the time to help the families of those who died and to rebuild parts of the town crippled by the incident there was never a formal memorial commissioned.

But now a plague has been installed in the town’s Old Cemetery to commemorate the disaster’s victims after funds were raised by the Stowmarket Local History Group.

The group’s chairman, Steve Williams, explains how the idea for a memorial came about.

“There’d never been a plaque or any sort of commemoration,” Mr Williams said.

“A few years ago our local history group decided to take on the project of transcribing all the names in Stowmarket cemetery.

“Some people would often stop and have a chat and we noticed there were people coming round trying to find the plots of people killed in the explosion.”

Mr Williams said only three of the victims had their own headstones and the queries from members of the public prompted the group to consider fundraising for a plaque.

Money was raised through donations and fees from talks given by the history group.

And contributions from national companies such as Wetherspoons and Morrisons, as well as local funeral directors Andrew Bingham and Ipswich stonemason James Wright, also boosted the projects coffers.

The completed plaque was unveiled last month in a small ceremony attended by members of the history group, the Mayor of Stowmarket Vera Waspe, the Rev Michael Eden and the Rev Leslie Ivory.

Mr Williams added reaction to the plaque had been favourable and the group was considering new projects.



Bad weather in Felixstowe.

Properties are at risk from flooding at Bawdsey Quay and Felixstowe Ferry, the Environment Agency has warned.

Former Ipswich Town manager Sir Bobby Robson

An online auction launched in memory of Ipswich Town and England legend Sir Bobby Robson has raised more than £160,000 for charity.

Ipswich Crown Court.

A 67-year-old west Suffolk garage owner who sexually assaulted and raped three schoolgirls more than 25 years ago has been jailed for 19 years.

A parade of puppets, live bands, fireworks and a packed Angel Hill, Abbey Gardens and town centre - the annual Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre

Tens of thousands of people swarmed to west Suffolk this weekend for what organisers expect to have been a record breaking Christmas Fayre.

One crew from Leiston attended the incident

A chimney fire in Knodishall was extinguished by firefighters from Leison this afternoon.

Vicky Ellis

More than £3,500 will be presented to the Colchester hospital chemotherapy unit in memory of a woman who died of cervical cancer aged just 25.

Annual Bury St Edmunds Christmas Fayre

Organisers behind one of Suffolk’s largest annual events, Bury St Edmunds’ Christmas fayre, are hoping today’s drizzly weather won’t dampen spirits on the last day of the event.

Most read

Topic pages

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder

Property search

e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Digital Edition

Read the East Anglian Daily Times e-edition today E-edition

Great British Life

Great British Life
MyDate24 MyPhotos24