The New Cross Fire
The New Cross Fire killed 13 young Black people during a birthday party in a house in New Cross, southeast London on Sunday January 18, 1981. The party was a joint birthday celebration for Yvonne Ruddock and Angela Jackson and was held at 439 New Cross Road, going on throughout the night. There was a fairly high degree of racial tension in New Cross, as it was well known that the far right group the National Front were active in the area. It has been claimed that there had been early complaints about noise from the party leading the police to deduce that the house had been bombed either as a revenge attack or to stop the noise.
When arrests were not forthcoming, the Black community was shocked by the indifference of the white population, and accused the London Metropolitan Police of covering up the cause, which they suspected was an arson attack motivated by racism. The protests arising out of the fire led to a mobilisation of Black political activity, but nobody has ever been charged in relation to the fire and the Police now claim that this was not an arson attack.
In addition to the original 13, Anthony Berbeck died after falling from the balcony of a block of council flats in South London on July 9, 1983. He was at the party and became disturbed following the death of his best friends.
Victims of the New Cross Fire:
Andrew Gooding (18.02.1962 - 18.01.1981)
Owen Thompson (11.09.1964 - 18.01.1981)
Patricia Johnson (16.05.1965 - 18.01.1981)
Patrick Cummings (21.09.1964 - 18.01.1981)
Steve Collins (2.05.1963 - 18.01.1981)
Lloyd Hall (28.11.1960 - 18.01.1981)
Humphrey Geoffrey Brown (4.07.1962 - 18.01.1981)
Roseline Henry (23.09.1964 - 18.01.1981)
Peter Campbell (23.02.1962 - 18.01.1981)
Gerry Paul Francis (21.08.1963 - 18.01.1981)
Glenton Powell (18.01.1966 - 25.01.1981)
Paul Ruddock (19.11.1960 - 09.02.1981)
Yvonne Ruddock (17.01.1965 - 24.01.1981)
Anthony Berbeck (17.08.1962 - 09.07.1983)
Message in the Music: The New Cross Fire