Great flood of London – eight people killed as wave of beer swept through London’s streets | The British Newspaper Archive Blog


Great flood of London – eight people killed as wave of beer swept through London’s streets

The ‘Evening Standard’ published a news story from the British Newspaper Archive this week about a tragedy that took place in London in October 1814, when 8 people were drowned by a wave of beer in the Tottenham Court Road.

We thought that people might like to read this story, so we’ve posted it below.


A huge wave of beer swept through London’s streets almost 200 years ago, killing 8 people including a 3 year old child, records at the British Newspaper Archives have revealed.

A vat of beer exploded at the Meux and Company brewery on Tottenham Court Road in October 1814, sending 1.5 million litres of beer gushing through the streets, destroying two houses.

The incident, in the area now occupied by the Dominion Theatre, caught the attention of the media nationwide. The Morning Chronicle documents that when one witness heard the vat crashing, he entered the storeroom and was instantly ‘up to his knees in beer’ and found that one side of the house and ‘a considerable part of the roof lay in ruins’.

Debra Chatfield, spokesperson for The British Newspaper Archive, said: “Some people would say that there are worse ways to die than drowning in freshly-brewed beer, but for the people in 19th century London, I’m sure it was terrifying.

“The beer-flood is one of many historical gems to be unearthed from the British Newspaper Archives’ unparalleled newspaper collection, which will have 40 million newspaper pages digitised over the next 10 years. It is a hugely important project and the magnitude of what we are working to achieve reinforces the importance of the media in documenting human history.”

Morning Chronicle – Thursday 20 October 1814



About The British Newspaper Archive

1. The British Newspaper Archive is a partnership project between the British Library and brightsolid. From November 2011 to 2021, up to 40 million pages from historical newspapers across the UK and Ireland (spanning the period, 1700 to 1950) will be uploaded to the website.

2. The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom. It provides world class information services to the academic, business, research and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive research collection.

3. brightsolid began life in 1995 as Scotland Online and is a leading UK independent provider of IT business services to large public and private sector organisations. The online publishing division of brightsolid has significant expertise in the digitisation and management of archival records, and works in partnership with the British Library, the National Archives and the National Records of Scotland Headquartered in Dundee, the company is owned by the publishers D.C. Thomson and has offices in Edinburgh and London.


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