Baltic Exchange bombing

The Baltic Exchange bombing was an attack by the Provisional IRA on the City of London, Britain's financial centre, on 10 April 1992,[1] the day after the General Election which re-elected John Major from the Conservative Party as Prime Minister.[2] The one-ton bomb – concealed in a van and consisting of a fertiliser device wrapped with a detonation cord made from 100 lb (45 kg) of semtex – was the biggest bomb detonated on mainland Britain since World War II.[3] The bombing killed three people, injured 91 others, and severely damaged the Baltic Exchange and its surroundings.

Baltic Exchange bombing
Part of the Troubles
LocationSt Mary Axe, City of London, United Kingdom
Date10 April 1992
21:20 (UTC)
TargetCity of London
Attack type
Truck bomb
Deaths3
Injured91
PerpetratorProvisional Irish Republican Army (IRA)

Background

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Since the Provisional Irish Republican Army's campaign in the early 1970s, many commercial targets were attacked in England which would cause economic damage and severe disruption. Since 1988, Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin and John Hume of the Social Democratic and Labour Party had been engaged in private dialogue to create a broad Irish nationalist coalition.[4] British Prime Minister John Major had refused to openly enter into talks with Sinn Féin until the IRA declared a ceasefire. The risk of an IRA attack on the City of London had increased due to the lack of progress with political talks, resulting in a warning being circulated to all police forces in Britain highlighting intelligence reports of a possible attack, as it was felt the IRA had enough personnel, equipment and funds to launch a sustained campaign in England. Major won the General Election on 9 April 1992. The next day, the bombing occurred.[3]

Bombing

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Stained glass windows from the old Baltic Exchange building, damaged in the bombing – now in the National Maritime Museum

On 10 April 1992 at 9:20 pm, a huge bomb was detonated in front of the Baltic Exchange building at 24–28 St Mary Axe. The façade of the offices was partially destroyed, and the rest of the building was extensively damaged. The bomb also caused heavy damage to surrounding buildings. It caused £800 million worth of damage (the equivalent of £2,060 billion in 2024),[5] £200 million more than the total damage caused by the 10,000 explosions that had occurred during the Troubles in Northern Ireland up to that point.[6]

The IRA gave a telephone warning twenty minutes before the explosion, saying there was a bomb inside a van outside the Stock Exchange. This is half a mile away from the actual location by the Baltic Exchange.[7]

The homemade explosive was inside a white Ford Transit van parked in St Mary Axe. The components including the Libya-supplied Semtex[8][9] were prepared in South Armagh, shipped from Ireland, and assembled in England. Behind their development were Rose Dugdale and Jim Monaghan.[10] The attack was planned for months and marked an advance to the British of the IRA's explosives manufacture.[11] The bomb was described as the most powerful to hit London since the Luftwaffe raids of World War II.[12]

A few hours later, another similarly large bomb went off in Staples Corner in north London, also causing major damage.[13]

Victims

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The bomb attack killed three people: Paul Butt, aged 29, who was passing in the street; Thomas Casey, 49, a Baltic Exchange attendant; and 15-year-old Danielle Carter, who was waiting in a car in St Mary Axe (the London street). Another 91 people were injured.[14]

Aftermath

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The next day, the IRA claimed responsibility in a statement from Dublin. It is believed the IRA were trying to send a message to the Conservative Party who won the election, which also saw Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams lose his unused seat in the Westminster Parliament.[15]

On 14 July 1992 anti-terrorist detectives believed they might have identified the bombers.[16]

Many of the damaged buildings were once again badly damaged by the 1993 Bishopsgate bombing the following year – both incidents contributed to the formation of the Traffic and Environmental Zone, the "Ring of Steel", in the City to protect it from further terrorism.[17]

The Exchange sold its badly damaged historic building to be redeveloped under the auspices of English Heritage as a Grade II* site. However, the City and English Heritage later allowed it to be demolished, seeking instead a new landmark tall building. The site, together with that of the Chamber of Shipping at 30–32 St Mary Axe, is now home to the skyscraper commissioned by Swiss Re commonly referred to as The Gherkin.[18]

The stained glass windows of First World War memorial in the Baltic Exchange suffered damage in the bomb blast; they have been restored and are housed in the National Maritime Museum.[19]

See also

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References

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  1. ^ Friday 9 March 2012 (9 March 2012). "Hiscox sponsors Baltic Exchange dinner – Felix Fund – The Bomb Disposal Charity". Felix Fund. Archived from the original on 18 May 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Baltic Exchange bomb: London Remembers, Aiming to capture all memorials in London". Londonremembers.com. 4 October 1992. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Scars from a bombing that won't heal | London Evening Standard". Standard.co.uk. 10 April 2002. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  4. ^ Taylor, Peter (1997). Provos The IRA & Sinn Féin. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 305–306. ISBN 0-7475-3818-2.
  5. ^ UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 7 May 2024.
  6. ^ De Baróid, Ciarán (2000). Ballymurphy And The Irish War. Pluto Press. p. 325. ISBN 0-7453-1509-7.
  7. ^ "Explosion rocks London's financial center – UPI Archives". Upi.com. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Government support for UK victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi-supplied Semtex and weapons". www.parliament.uk. 9 April 2019.
  9. ^ "Report on compensation for Gaddafi-backed IRA attack victims to be focus of Committee session". committees.parliament.uk/. 22 March 2021.
  10. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (10 March 2024). "The enigma of Rose Dugdale: what drove a former debutante to become Britain and Ireland's most wanted terrorist?". The Observer. Archived from the original on 10 March 2024. Retrieved 10 March 2024.
  11. ^ Oppenheimer, A. R. (16 October 2008). IRA, The Bombs and the Bullets: A History of Deadly Ingenuity – A. R. Oppenheimer – Google Books. ISBN 9781788550185. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  12. ^ Schmidt, William E. (14 April 1992). "Dazed But Alive, Londoners Return – The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  13. ^ Kirby, Terry (14 July 1992). "IRA City bombers identified by police". The Independent. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  14. ^ Oppenheimer, A. R. (2009). IRA: The Bombs and The Bullets. A History of Deadly Ingenuity. Irish Academic Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-7165-2895-1.
  15. ^ "IRA claims it planted bomb that killed three – UPI Archives". Upi.com. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  16. ^ Terry Kirby (14 July 1992). "IRA City bombers identified by police". The Independent. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  17. ^ "'Ring of steel' widened". BBC. 18 December 2003. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  18. ^ "'Gherkin' challenger gives way". The Telegraph. 14 October 2000. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  19. ^ "Baltic Exchange Memorial Glass". National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 16 January 2016.

51°30′53″N 00°04′51″W / 51.51472°N 0.08083°W / 51.51472; -0.08083