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WHO ARE WE?

New Cross Fire Foundation (NCFF) has been created by the Family Members of those who lost their lives and Survivors from the tragic New Cross Fire event in 1981,  which adversely impacted on Black Caribbean communities in London.  At that time there was no support provided to overcome the grief and trauma felt by many.  The average age of the children that survived the fire was 15, and they were just starting their exams which  led to negative socio-economic outcomes in the areas of Employment; Finance; Physical Health and Mental Health. The New Cross Fire took place 41 years ago. Communities are now into 5th generations with the negative impact still felt to this day. NCFF aims to ensure that the Black Caribbean Community will benefit by having the support it requires, by those who can directly identify with them, tailored to their individual needs in order to overcome these barriers and make positive change. The NCFF Directors have navigated their way through their own trauma to become qualified and skilled to facilitate the following:

  • Training Workshops and Activities

  • Accredited Courses

  • Referrals to Partner Agencies

  • Counselling Services

  • Research and Representation

  • Crisis support for the most vulnerable

  • Advice, Guidance and support for issues affecting personal growth

  • Community Fundraising Events

  • Bursaries

  • Community Engagement activities

  • Advocacy

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Memorial plaque as placed outside Lewisham Town Hall SE6 on behalf of London Borough Lewisham

The lives of 14 young black people were taken from us due to a fire which has left our community distraught. This foundation has been set up by Family Members of those who lost their lives, and Survivors from this tragic event. 

The New Cross Fire occurred during a party at 439 New Cross Road, South-East London, in the early hours of Sunday, 18 January 1981. The blaze killed 13 young black people aged between 14 and 22, and one survivor took his own life two years later. No one has ever been charged in connection with the fire, which forensic science subsequently established started inside the house. Inquests into the deaths were held in 1981 and 2004. Both inquests recorded open verdicts. In the immediate aftermath of the fire, a New Cross Massacre Action Committee (NCMAC) was set up, chaired by John La Rose, which organised a "Black People's Day of Action" on 2 March 1981, when some 20,000 people marched over a period of eight hours through London, carrying placards that bore statements including: "13 Dead, Nothing Said".

Fire

A forensic science report produced for the Metropolitan Police in 2011 ruled out a firebomb attack, finding instead that the fire had started when somebody in the house set fire to a foam-filled armchair in the front room of the property at 5:40 am on Sunday morning. There had been some early complaints from neighbours about excessive noise from the party. A white Austin Princess car was seen driving away from the fire. The party was a joint birthday celebration for Yvonne Ruddock (one of the victims of the fire) and Angela Jackson (who survived) and was held at No. 439, New Cross Road. It began on the evening of Saturday, 17 January 1981, and continued throughout the night and into the early hours of Sunday, 18 January.

Victims

The victims of the fire were all young Black British people between the ages of 14 and 22, (in alphabetical order) :

  • Humphrey Brown, age 18

  • Peter Campbell, age 18

  • Patrick Cummings, age 16

  • Steve Collins, age 17

  • Gerry Francis, age 17

  • Andrew Gooding, age 14

  • Lloyd Hall, age 20

  • Rosaline Henry, age 16

  • Patricia Johnson, age 15

  • Glenton Powell, age 16 (died in hospital)

  • Yvonne Ruddock, age 16 (died in hospital)

  • Paul Ruddock, age 22 (died in hospital)

  • Owen Thompson, age 16

Inquests

Police also ruled out the theory that a fight had taken place. The inquest into the deaths of the 13 teenagers, began on 21 April 1981. The initial police suspicion was that the party had been firebombed, either as a revenge attack or in an attempt to stop the noise; there was also an alternative theory that a fight had broken out, from which the blaze emanated. The jury returned an open verdict. In 2002, a new action in the High Court led to an order for a second inquest, which was held in 2004. This second inquest also resulted in an open verdict. The coroner said that the fire was probably started deliberately by one of the guests, but as he could not be sure of this, he returned an open verdict.

Aftermath

One week after the fire, on 25 January, a meeting was held at the Moonshot Club in New Cross, attended by more than one thousand people. The meeting concluded with a march to the scene of the fire and a demonstration there, which blocked New Cross Road for several hours. The New Cross Massacre Action Committee (NCMAC) was set up, chaired by John La Rose, and organised weekly meetings in New Cross, which saw increasing participation as the police investigation announced that there was no evidence of arson and that the fire was believed to be accidental. Documents and papers related to the New Cross Massacre Action Committee's campaign are held in the archives of the George Padmore Institute and can be accessed by the public. The Black Power group Black Unity and Freedom Party (BUFP) published an account of what happened on the night of the fire in their journal, Black Voice. The New Cross fire, described by Darcus Howe in 2011 as "the blaze we cannot forget", is significant as a turning point in the relationship between Black Britons, the police and the media, and marks an "intergenerational alliance to expose racism, injustices and the plight of black Britons".

Black Peoples Day Of Action

The Action Committee organised a "Black People's Day of Action" on 2 March, when 20,000 people marched over a period of eight hours from Fordham Park to Hyde Park carrying placards that bore statements including: "Thirteen Dead, Nothing Said", "No Police Cover-Up" and "Blood Aga Run If Justice Na Come". One slogan read: "Dame Jill Knight Set The Fire Alight!"; an apparent reference to a controversial speech by Dame Jill Knight, a right-wing member of the ruling Conservative Party, which was widely interpreted as condoning or even encouraging "direct action" against noisy parties. Tribune described the march as "the largest mass movement for racial justice on British soil at the time", but also noted that "journalists stationed in the offices of Fleet Street chanted monkey noises at the protestors down below.

Source - New Cross house fire - Wikipedia

Gary Collins (Chair)
Director of Operations
gary.collins@ncff.co.uk

 

Pat Warmington
Director of Education
pat.warmington@ncff.co.uk

 

Wayne Haynes
Director of Public Relations
wayne.haynes@ncff.co.uk


 

Richard Simpson
Director of Community Engagement
richard.simpson@ncff.co.uk

 

Registered Company Number: 14039134
Registered Offices: The Play Office, 285 Albany Road, SE5 0AH
Telephone Number: 07450 477 456

Website under construction

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