True
Tales




THE LONDON BEER FLOOD OF 1816

by
Tony Sakalauskas




 


In central London stood the Meux and Company Brewery. It housed several twenty foot high vats. Each vat had 3,555 barrels of ale in it and twenty-nine metal hoops wrapped around it. Then, on October 16, one of the hoops, on one of the vats, snapped; then another, then... An explosive sound was heard that carried as far as five miles away.

The beer exploded in all directions, breaking open other vats. The pressure of thousands of barrels of ale smashed through a twenty-five foot high brick wall and escaped outside into St. Giles; a crowded slum area where whole families lived in single rooms, cellars or attics.

A small sea of beer crashed into nearby houses, flooded basements, and demolished two homes. A wave of ale ploughed through a stone wall in the nearby Tavistock Arms pub and buried a barmaid for three hours. In one home the beer busted in and drowned a mother and her three year old son.

The luckier people dashed to higher ground in their attics or on rooftops. Back at the brewery one employee managed to save his brother from going under. In all nine people were killed; some were trampled on by the crowd in their rush to get free beer.

People who waded knee-deep in beer scooped some up in pots while others lapped it up in cupped hands. When news of the flood spread other Londoners came to get their share. Meanwhile, people who were trapped beneath rubble cried out for help. When the drinkers came to their senses they set out to help them.

The rescued were taken to a local hospital where a riot almost broke out. The patients smelled the beer and thought they were being left out of a hospital party. They calmed down after the staff told them what really happened.

Relatives of some of the people who drowned had their corpses displayed in their homes and exhibited to the crowd for a fee. In one house too many people crowded into a room and the floor gave out. They plunged into a cellar half full of beer. The exhibitioners then moved to a new house. They attracted more customers but they also attracted the police, who shut them down.

It took several weeks to pump out the ale and several months for the smell to leave.


Tony Sakalauskas is a 44 year old
freelance-writer
making a strong debut on 3 A.M. Publishing.Com
with True Tales. He has
a bachelor's degree in history and considers
himself an amateur historical researcher. He lives in Dartmouth,
Nova Scotia, Canada where he published stories
in a local newspaper, Metro Weekly, until it folded three years ago.
Visit his website at www.maxpages.com/truetales!


tonys@columnist.com





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