The Deadly Tragedy of “Victoria Hall Stampede”, at Sunderland in 1883


The Victoria Hall Stampede was a tragedy that occurred in Sunderland, within the northeast of European country, in 1883. The unfortunate incident happened during a hall at the top of a children’s diversion show. throughout the stampede, a complete of 183 kids were crushed to death.

The Victoria Hall Stampede is taken into account to be the worst tragedy of its kind in British history. the complete country was touched by the terrible event, and there was a nation-wide outpouring of grief at that point. countless individuals gave donations to the city and sculpture was erected in memory of the kids who lost their lives. Read: Rubber Olmec Ball

In recent times, annual memorial services are control to mark the day of the tragedy and to remember the victims. one amongst the positive developments following the Victoria Hall Stampede was the invention of the push bar (known conjointly because of the crash bar or panic bar) emergency door.

The History of Victoria Hall

Victoria Hall stood within the town of Sunderland, on the corner of Toward Road and Laura Street, on the side of Mowbray Park. The building, that may be a hall, was in-built 1872.

Victoria Hall was a bold project, designed to mimic the dimensions and type of architecture of the Crystal Palace and Albert Hall (both within the capital, London).

Victoria Hall as an imposing brick building in-built the Gothic Revival (known conjointly as Victorian Gothic or neo-Gothic) vogue, that was modish throughout that amount.

The development of Victoria Hall was funded by a Quaker minister by the name of Edward Backhouse and value $10,500 (£9,500). It appears that either the cash, time or both, had run out as a distinction is seen between the north and south gable walls.

While the latter was partly hidden by the top of the terrace homes it adjoined, the previous was exposed for all to examine. because it was a plain brick wall, it absolutely was not a very lovely issue to seem at and was even considered an ugliness. read: Great Serpent Ohio


Inside Victoria Hall, there was seating on the bottom floor, during a circle on the primary floor, and within the gallery on top of.

The building might seat up to 3,000 individuals and so was a preferred venue for public meetings and diversion. sadly, few records of the meetings and events control at Victoria Hall have survived until these days.


Nevertheless, considering that its helper was a Quaker minister, one will fairly speculate that these events adhered to the strict temperance and spiritual codes of the Quakers. Must read: Story of devil tower

Victoria Hall would in all probability have remained just as an example of architectural style and forgotten by history had it not been for the tragic incident that occurred in 1883.


The fatal Victoria Hall Event

The Victoria Hall Stampede occurred on the sixteenth of June 1883. thereon fateful Saturday, Victoria Hall served because of the venue for a performance placed on by the Fays, a combine of traveling entertainers from Tynemouth fish tank.

According to a ticket from the show, the Fays “Will provides a nice Day Performance for Children”, that consisted of “ conjuration, Talking Waxworks, Living Marionettes, the nice Ghost Illusion, etc.”Read: Mauritius History

Moreover, it absolutely was secure that “Every kid coming into space can stand an opportunity of receiving a handsome gift, books, toys, etc.”.

Finally, the Fays boasted that “this diversion has been witnessed by thousands of delighted youngsters throughout England“.

They were in all probability expecting, like everybody else, that the performance at Victoria Hall wouldn’t be not like their previous ones. sadly, Mr. and Mrs. Fay were wrong.


At 3 o’clock within the afternoon, Victoria Hall was full of some a pair of,000 youngsters who were wanting to watch the performance provided by the Fays. The show appears to own gone off while not a hitch, however tragedy-stricken because it terminated.

As the performance all over, it absolutely was declared that youngsters with draped numbered tickets would run prizes as they left the hall.

At an equivalent time, prizes were being given intent on the kids on the bottom floor. It appears that the latter was worn out a rather disorderly fashion because the prizes were thrown out into the audience.

The children on the primary floor and gallery on top of, who were witnessing the scene happening on the bottom floor, became anxious that they might miss out on the free prizes.

Therefore, several of them began to create their manner all the way down to the bottom floor of the hall. it’s calculable that there have been as several as one,100 kids seated within the 2 upper levels.

At the foot of the wall was a door that provided access to the bottom floor. thereon day, the door was opened inwards and bolted by the management, deed a little opening of regarding twenty inches (50 centimeters) for the kids to meet up with.

This arrangement allowed for kids to exit the well, and enter the bottom floor one at a time, and was meant to manage the flow of kids, similarly on the permit the management to visualize the children’s tickets additional simply.

A few of the kids within the front were ready to get through the gap within the door, on the other hand, somebody got packed. As a consequence of the gap being blocked, the kids who were instantly behind began to pile one on high of the opposite.

The pile of bodies, it absolutely was according, reached twenty deep. the kids at the highest of the steps, being unaware of what was occurring at the foot, continuing to surge forward, any crushing and suffocating those at bay within the front.

Frederick Graham, the caretaker, tried to untangle the mass of at bay kids, however, he found that the burden way too significant for him to raise. Thinking on his feet, Graham ran up another well and succeeded in leading regarding 600 kids to safety via another exit.

Around the same time, the adults on the bottom floor complete that there have been youngsters at bay behind the door and began to try and do one thing regarding it.

They started actuation the kids one by one through the door. As additional adults came to assist, the well was with success cleared in half an hour.


The Victoria Hall Stampede Aftermath

It was only ordered was repaired that the dimensions of the tragedy became clear. a complete of 183 kids, 114 boys, and sixty-nine women lost their lives that day.

The youngest victims of the Victoria Hall Stampede, Dorothy B. Buglass, and Margaret Thompson, were solely three years previous, whereas the oldest, Annie Redmond, was 14.

All the kids died of asphyxia. Some families lost all of their youngsters, whereas the complete Bible category of an area Sunday school lost all of its thirty students throughout the tragedy.

One survivor of the Victoria Hall Stampede was William codfish jr., from whom we have a first-hand account of the incident. codfish was born in 1876 and would are six or seven years previous went he attended the performance at the Victoria Hall in 1883.

His account of the Victoria Hall Stampede was written in December 1894, eleven years when the incident.

Nevertheless, this account provides a vivid description of what happened that day, from the eyes of a child attending the performance. Codling’s eye-witness account of the tragedy’s aftermath is as follows:

“Then the pressure on top of began to reduce, a report unfold that the toys were being distributed within the gallery and people behind having created a feeble rush upwards, back we tend to totter across that path of death. At the primary landing, we tend to were met by some men and brought out of doors into the open air, wherever was assembled a crowd of frightened individuals drawn along by wild rumors. before long men began to come back down the steps bearing in their arms lifeless burdens, and from the gang came a wail of grief, whereas some of them ran off to inform the terrible news that afraid the complete city, and that during a few hours sent a thrill of horror through the complete of England. I had not thought the affair was serious and currently, I looked on hypnotized as the body when the body was brought out and arranged during a row upon the pavement. One woman, I remember, came out carrying a toddler that she had gone in to hunt while behind her came a sympathetic man bearing another. the lady diminished the steps with agonized face and raveled hair and shouted ferociously to the gang “Get back! Get back! and let them have air.” “Ah! my sensible girl,” aforesaid the person who bore her different burden, whereas tears rolled down his cheeks, “Ah! they’ll ne’er like air additional.”


Indeed, news of the tragedy unfold around the country and was according to by the national newspapers. the complete country was touched by the tragedy and plenty of sent donations to the city. Read: The Secret Story of Death and Glory: Heroes in Search of Kleos

By the ordinal of August, a complete of $6,404 (£ 5,769) had been collected. one amongst these donors was Empress herself, who created a donation of $55 (£ 50).

The queen conjointly asked to be unbroken knowing regarding the recovery of the survivors and sent a message of acknowledgment to the families who were full of the tragedy.

This was sent to the town’s clergymen, who relayed the message throughout the next funerals and services. The funerals lasted from weekday to Friday, and through this era, all businesses in Sunderland remained closed as a mark of respect.

The donations received were used primarily to hide the price of the funerals and the remainder was wont to erect a memorial sculpture for the victims.

This marble sculpture was carved by W.G. Brooker and delineate a bereft girl with a dead kid on her lap, galvanized by a Classical sculpture of Niobe. Originally, there was AN inscription on the front of the pedestal. This was later traced onto a pill, that lies these days at the foot of the memorial.

The inscription reads as follows, “ERECTED TO COMMEMORATE / THE calamity that took place / within the VICTORIA HALL SUNDERLAND / ON Saturday sixteenth June 1883 / BY that 183 kids LOST THEIR LIVES”.


Initially, the memorial stood below a cover in Mowbray Park, opposite the scene of the disaster.

Later on, it absolutely was touched to Bishopwearmouth site, however, brought back to Mowbray Park in 2000, with a replacement cover.

In 2017, the memorial was vandalized, as a panel within the glass case housing, it was smashed.

Apart from the statue, the victims of the Victoria Hall Stampede are commemorated in different ways in which similarly. as an instance, a literary work entitled ‘ The Sunderland Calamity’ was written by the Scottish author William McGonagall, who, incidentally, is usually thought of to be the worst poet within the history of a people language.

In more recent years, a memorial service for the victims of the Victoria Hall Stampede is controlled every year on the sixteenth of June.

This service is organized by the Sunderland township Heritage Society. additionally, a Sunderland creator by the name of Lyn Killeen paid tribute to the victims of the tragedy through her works of up to date art, Ascension, and Silent Voices, that was on show at town Street Gallery on the fifteenth and sixteenth of June this year.

Lastly, sensible measures have conjointly been taken to forestall such a tragedy from happening once more. one amongst the results of the Victoria Hall Stampede was the passing of laws in parliament requiring all places of public diversion to own decent exits which all exit doors should open outward and be simple to open. Another positive outcome of the tragedy was the invention of the push bar.

The discoverer of this door gap mechanism was Robert Alexander Briggs, who was fifteen years previous at the time of the Victoria Hall Stampede. The push bar was unreal some years when the tragedy and Briggs applied for a patent for his invention on the seventh of November 1891.

On the thirteenth of August 1892, Brigg’s application was accepted and therefore the description of his invention, which is entitled ‘ Improvement in Bolts and Fastenings for Doors of Theatres and different Public Buildings ‘ (GB18871/1891), is as follows. Read: Kublai Khan

“The bolts on the door are connected by means that of levers or cranks or a combination of levers and cranks with a push-piece or push rod contained during a box affixed to the vertical of the door so within the event of pressure on the within being applied to the push-piece or push rod the bolts ar mechanically withdrawn from the door head and sill and therefore the doors let out. The reverse action shoots the bolts and totally secures the door.”

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