PortCities London

London's biggest explosion

The explosion

Blast and destruction

Minoco Wharf after the Silvertown explosion.
View full size imageMinoco Wharf after the Silvertown explosion. © NMM
During the evening of 19 January 1917 a fire broke out in the TNT plant. Just before 7 p.m. a huge explosion ripped through the Brunner-Mond works and the Silvertown area.

A large part of the factory was instantly destroyed together with several nearby streets. The explosion was so great that red-hot lumps of metal rained down on the surrounding area and started fires for miles around. The glare from these fires could be seen as far away as Maidstone in Kent and Guildford in Surrey.

Eyewitness report

A local reporter, writing in the Stratford Express, wrote:

Quotation marks left
The whole heavens were lit in