The Heroism of A Stranger

In the park adjoining the Museum of Childhood is a drinking fountain with an unusual and tragic history. Most marble fountains were erected by local worthies to provide refreshment for visitors, a few are memorials, but I doubt if any has such sadness associated with it. Water is essential to life. It is central to the ritual of baptism which welcomes a child into the Christian community. It was in short supply on one fateful night.

bethnal fount 1

bethnal fount

It commemorates a fire on the night of 20 April 1902 When Alice Maud Denham, her 4 children, Alice Biggs and Peter Pegolous lost their lives at 423 Hackney Road. It seems Pegolous was a stranger who happened to be passing. Mr Denham was at work. Here is the press account which notes the dangerous state of the building. This is in Bethnal Green, a poor area of the capital. The sort of slum that tower blocks were meant to replace with clean, safe housing. 

bna fire

bna fire 1

bna fire 2

It reminds me of the hidden gem, Postmans Park, a memorial to self sacrifice erected by artist G.F. Watts, which I have featured elsewhere. The lean to shelter has a wall displaying tiles commemorating people who tried to rescue others from fires, drownings etc.

postmans park

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