Plaque in Stoke Newington commemorates first bombs dropped on London during First World War

| 29 May 2015

A plaque has been unveiled commemorating the first bombs dropped by Zeppelins on London in WWI

a black and white photo of a policeman sat astride a large circular bomb
One of the first explosive bombs that fell in London. This weighed 190 lbs and was dropped from a Zeppelin on the night of May 31st 1915, at the rear of the “Nevill Arms”, public-house, Nevill Road© Courtesy Hackney Council
On May 31 1915, the first aerial bomb ever dropped on London - from a German Zeppelin - fell on the top floor of 16 Alkham Road in Stoke Newington.

The Zeppelin continued to travel southwards over areas of Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest dropping bombs in its wake and killing seven people, injuring 35 and causing forty one fires.

Remarkably the first bomb to fall, at Alkham Road, caused no deaths or injuries despite starting a fire to the top floor of the family home.

But for the people of London it was the beginning of intermittent German raids over the capital, both by German Zeppelins and bombers with over 20 more raids on London took place between 1915 and 1918, six of them affecting Hackney.

Now the 100th anniversary of the start of this aerial terror campaign has been marked with the unveiling of a plaque at Alkham Road.

a photo of a plaque on a brick wall
The new plaque in Stoke Newington commemorating the first bombs dropped on London during the First World War. © Hackney Council
Councillor Guy Nicholson, Hackney Council Cabinet Member for Regeneration, who unveiled the plaque with local historian Ian Castle, said the Great War acted as “the catalyst for great social change to take place” but the warfare that brought about this change "was as terrible as it was bloody".

“One aspect of this was in the concept of taking a war into the heart of a civilian community many hundreds of miles from the battlefield," he added.

“It must have been as frightening as it was shocking for the community in Hackney and indeed across London, to experience for the first time an attack from the sky.

"It is right that in the centenary of the Great War we recognise those profound moments that so shaped the world we now live in, and the courage that those on the home front in Hackney must have had to draw upon as they faced this new and terrible aspect of warfare that was literally on their doorsteps.”

A similar plaque commemorating the event was erected in the 1990s on 31 Nevill Road where it was thought the first bomb fell before recent research by Ian Castle came to light.

a black and white photo of a crowd looking at a damaged building
27 Nevill Road showing damage caused by Zeppelin raid, May 1915© Hackney Council
“I am delighted by the unveiling of this plaque, which not only commemorates an important moment in the history of the borough of Hackney, but also a significant point in the history of London too,” said Ian.

“While most people are aware of the Blitz of 1940-41, many are unaware that London was bombed from the air in the First World War too.”

Hackney Museum and Hackney Archives will be launching a number of exhibitions next year to further mark the centenary of the First World War.

Hackney's collection of over 100 recruitment posters that were displayed nationally and locally at the start of the War will form the core of an exhibition relating to the Home Front in Hackney at Hackney Museum from February to June 2016.

A further exhibition, continuing the theme of recruitment and conscription, will also be taking place, looking at Hackney’s conscientious objectors and featuring local stories of people involved, which will be on display at the Hackney Archives.

A number of local volunteers are currently being supported by the Hackney Archives to help uncover more of Hackney’s First World War history through researching historic collections.

The research will help local people to engage and explore the impact of the First World War on Hackney and the effects in had on local communities at the time.

a photograph showing bomb damage to the back of a house
43-45 Dynevor Road - rear view showing Zeppelin air raid damage, May 1915© Hackney Council
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