Battersea Park memorial tree planted 50 years after tragedy

News at Eden Harper | 12/06/2023

Five children were killed in the tragedy on May 30, 1972 and have finally been honoured by a permanent memorial near the Peace Garden in Battersea Park to commemorate the “forgotten” tragedy on its 50 year anniversary. 13 were also injured when the rollercoaster derailed at the funfair on May 30,1972.

The Big Dipper’s cars had become detached from the rope which was pulling them, causing them to roll backwards, derail and crash through a wooden barrier.

The site where the ride was based is no longer accessible to the public and survivors of the tragedy had been campaigning for years for a memorial to be created in the park for those who died. Hilary Wynter spent almost a month in hospital after being injured in the crash when she was 13 and said “Everything seems to have something, some sort of memorial, and this is absolutely forgotten.”

However finally the first memorial to mark the tragedy was finally unveiled on Monday 30th May. A cherry tree was planted by Wandsworth mayor Jeremy Ambache and it is hoped to bloom in May each year to coincide with the anniversary.

Survivors, family members and friends came together for the ceremony at the park and laid flowers by the tree. The names of the children who died are written on a plaque at its base and it is hoped it will serve as a place to remember those tragedies and to learn from for the future.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has also thrown his support behind the plans, saying it was "really important to keep these things in the public eye because of the difference it makes to those who are grieving".

He said: “I know from other memorials I’ve been involved in, it’s a place you can go to reflect, to think, to spend time with others to commemorate this awful tragedy, but also it’s a reminder of the importance of health and safety, to make sure we get things right.”