For the thousands of commuters who walk past South Quay station on the Isle of Dogs every day, few would notice the small plaque at the front of the station. However this plaque remembers an incident of recent history that led to devastation and tragedy .
It seems incredible that an area that was devastated by bombing in the Second World War should be also a victim of bombing in peacetime. But that’s what happened on the ninth of February 1996 when a IRA Bomb exploded at South Quay.
Although London had suffered from many IRA bombings, the South Quay bomb took everyone by surprise due to the fact that in the previous 18 months there had been a ceasefire to allow the Northern Ireland peace process to develop.
The large bomb was in a small lorry parked about 80 yards from South Quay Station, although the station and the DLR was extensively damaged they were both operational within a few weeks.
Such was the power of the bomb was the effect of the blast was felt all over the Island with damage reported in areas some way from the blast site.
The damage to the South Quay area was considerable with estimates of damage costing between 80 to 100 million pounds. Tragically two people, Inan Bashir and John Jeffries who worked in a local newsagents died and 39 people were injured.
The IRA admitted responsibility for the bomb but described the deaths and injuries as “regrettable”, arguing that they could have been avoided if police had responded promptly to “clear and specific warnings”.
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Paul Condon famously said at the time: “It would be unfair to describe this as a failure of security. It was a failure of humanity.”