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1975: Horror underground

On 28 February 1975 a London Underground train crashed at Moorgate station, killing 43 and injuring many more.

The train, arriving from Drayton Park, was packed with commuters when it overshot the platform and ploughed into a dead-end tunnel.

The intense heat and twisted wreckage meant the last passenger was not rescued until late in the evening.

Here are six accounts from people caught up in the disaster.

Javier Gonzalez, survivor
The train was not very busy and because I knew the exit at Moorgate was close to the front of the train I got into the front carriage and found myself a seat, next to the second set of doors.

I was reading my newspaper and I did not notice how far we were from Moorgate. Nothing was wrong until the train shuddered and I leant a little forward, because of the movement of the train.

Just above my newspaper I saw a lady sitting opposite me and then the lights went out. I have the image of her face to this day. She died.

As darkness came, there was a very loud noise of the crash, metal and glass breaking, no screams, all in the fraction of the second, one takes to breathe in. It was all over in no time.

After the sudden impact I went to a place which seemed very white and peaceful. I was kind of floating in the air, happy, but then went to another place, very hot, full of screams and I did not want to be there.

I had been knocked unconscious and have no further memory until I heard a shout in the distance: "Is there anybody else there?" And there was complete silence. Then my conservation instinct made me shout back: "Yes, I am here!"

The voice from the distance shouted again asking: "Can you move?" I had my hands near my shoulders and I tried to lift myself up, but I could not because of pain. I was not fully conscious, did not know where I was, but I shouted back: "No, I cannot move".

I then heard the distant voice shouting again: "Cover your face up and we'll get you out!" I crossed my hands behind my head and felt nothing, heard nothing - I was unconscious.

The next thing I remember is that someone was lifting my body, holding me from under my armpits and I asked him: "Who are you?"

He said "I am David - I work for the rescue services", so I said: "Thank you David". But I do not know why I was saying all this - I still did not know where I was or what had happened.

Javier Gonzalez was taken to St Bartholomew's hospital where he spent several weeks recovering from his injuries.


Kip Laister-Dawe, police officer
I was the first police officer and the first person to arrive at the Moorgate train disaster, before the fire brigade or ambulance.

I spoke to a ticket collector at the barrier on arrival and he had no idea what I was talking about. When I descended the platform by escalator, smoke started coming up from the tunnel.

I ran down the platform trying to smash windows with my truncheon, with some success, but most people were in the front carriages as this was the final stop. I assisted in getting some people off the last carriages and then to the way out.

I remained on scene for many hours until relieved by the commander of British Transport Police. The first police officer on scene normally has to stay until relieved by the most senior officer for continuity of evidence.

I attended the post mortem and was given a commendation by the coroner.


Steve Attwood, ambulance man
I was just about to complete my training as an ambulance man with the London Ambulance Service and was due for posting to my permanent station in the next few weeks.

I and my crew mate were working unsupervised at Smithfield Ambulance Station near the Old Bailey that day.

The first I heard of the accident was as I was driving to work from my home in Charlton and the 1400 news announced the accident on the car radio.

I was stunned, terrified and excited all at the same time, as I quickly realised that we would be attending very soon and only the casualties that were trapped would remain for us to deal with.

We eventually relieved the morning crew at 1530 and took over a completely stripped ambulance with only a radio, two hardhats and two wheeled stretchers on board.

On arrival at the underground station we were told to back the ambulance doors to the entrance, which was in front of the media and, await the next casualty to be released.

We waited for five hours until WPC Margaret Liles was brought to the surface, having been released by having her foot amputated shortly before. We raced her to St Bartholomew's Hospital - just about one mile away - under police escort and with a team of surgeons in attendance in the back.


Robert Patterson, hospital worker
I was working in the operating theatres at St Bartholomew's Hospital. I regularly worked in the old orthopaedic theatre which was in the basement. On this morning I arrived for work and busied myself preparing for a routine operating list.

A little while later I was told that the elective list was cancelled because the Margate train had crashed. I remember asking myself why and how Barts should be involved in what was essentially a south of the river, Southern Region incident.

It was only an hour or so later that I realised I had misheard and that Moorgate was the scene of the crash.

I remember four or five patients coming to my theatre that day. We probably had a similar number the following day as victims were still being pulled out of the wreckage.

I recall that everyone was speculating if the train driver and front passengers were likely to be brought out alive, but as time passed that became increasingly unlikely. I believe that when he was eventually extricated his injuries were such that he must have died instantly.


John Hesketh, blood donor
I was a student at the City of London Business School at that time. On the day, I entered the building via the London Wall gate, and didn't see all the fuss that was happening on Moorgate itself (where our main entrance was).

So it was not until some hours later that we came out and saw all the emergency vehicles and fire fighters outside.

Our lecture was interrupted by someone asking us to donate blood, so I went off with a group of other students to the donor centre opposite, never thinking to call my parents in Manchester to let them know I was ok.

However, my mother saw me queuing outside the centre on BBC News that night and knew I was ok.

I didn't have a television then, so I didn't see the footage until I watched the video report on this website.


Perkin, lucky escape
I regularly used to use that Northern Line branch as I worked near Moorgate station and I would make the interchange daily from the Victoria Line at Highbury Station.

On that fateful day, I arrived at Highbury and my Moorgate train was already waiting at the platform. I decided to miss that one and wait for the next, but at the last moment, on a sudden impulse I changed my mind and made a dash just as the doors were closing.

I therefore arrived at Moorgate on the train directly in front of the one which was to crash. The emergency sirens started just as I reached my office in Finsbury Square.

It was horrific, as most people regularly used to cram into the first few carriages because the escalators were right at the front end of the platform.

After that day, lots of "familiar" faces on the morning train were never seen again.


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