Attacks on the London Underground

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This is a list of deliberate attacks on the infrastructure, staff or passengers of the London Underground that have caused considerable damage, injury or death.

1883 Praed Street and Charing Cross bombings[edit]

On 30 October 1883, two bombs planted as part of the Fenian dynamite campaign exploded on the Inner Circle. The first bomb, planted on a train, exploded near Paddington (Praed Street) station damaging the train it was on and a passing train along with part of the station and the signal box. Sixty-two passengers were injured.[1]

At the same time, the second bomb exploded in the tunnel between Charing Cross (now Embankment) and Westminster stations. No trains were damaged or passengers hurt.[1]

1885 Gower Street bombing[edit]

In January 1885 a Fenian bomb exploded on a Metropolitan Railway train at Gower Street (now Euston Square) station.[2]

1897 Aldersgate bombing[edit]

A bomb left by an anarchist group on a Metropolitan Railway train exploded at Aldersgate Street station (now Barbican) on 26 April 1897.[3] Sixty people were injured, ten seriously, but the only fatality was Harry Pitts (born in 1861 in Devon) who died from his injuries. At the inquest into Pitts' death, the jury found that he had been killed "by a bomb, or some other explosive, maliciously placed in the carriage by some unknown person or persons". A verdict of "wilful murder" was recorded.[4]

1913 Piccadilly Circus bombing[edit]

On 2 May 1913 the suffragettes plant a bomb containing nitroglycerine, a highly unstable and dangerous explosive, at Piccadilly Circus tube station. Although it had the potential to harm many on the busy platform, the bomb was discovered and dealt with before it could explode.[5]

1913 Westbourne Park bombing[edit]

On 16 May 1913 a bomb – planted by the suffragettes – was discovered at Westbourne Park station before it could explode.

IRA attacks[edit]

The Provisional Irish Republican Army, is an Irish Republican paramilitary organisation which, until the Belfast Agreement, sought to end Northern Ireland's status within the United Kingdom and bring about a United Ireland through armed force. On a number of occasions the group attacked the London Underground.

1939 attacks[edit]

Bombs planted by the original Irish Republican Army (IRA) exploded in the left luggage offices at Tottenham Court Road and Leicester Square stations on 3 February 1939.

On 26 July, bombs exploded at King's Cross and Victoria stations. In King's Cross, one man was killed and two wounded, whereas in Victoria five were injured (→ S-Plan).

1973 attacks[edit]

On 23 August 1973, a bomb was found in an abandoned bag in Baker Street station ticket hall. The bomb was defused. A week later another bomb was found by a member of staff at the same station and was also defused. It was planted by the Provisional IRA.

On 26 December 1973 a bomb was detonated in a telephone kiosk in the booking hall at Sloane Square station. Nobody was injured.

1975 attacks[edit]

On 9 October, a bomb detonated just outside Green Park station, killing one and injuring 20 people.

1976 attacks[edit]

On 13 February a bomb weighing 30 pounds (14 kg) was found in a small case at Oxford Circus station and was defused.[6]

On 4 March, a 10 pounds (4.5 kg) bomb was exploded on an empty train at Cannon Street station, injuring eight people in a passing train.

On 15 March an IRA bomb exploded on a Metropolitan line train at West Ham station, on the Hammersmith & City section of the line. The bomber, Vincent Donnelly, possibly took the wrong train and attempted to return to his destination. However, the bomb detonated prior to reaching the City of London. Donnelly shot Peter Chalk, a Post Office engineer, and shot and killed the train's driver Julius Stephen, who had attempted to catch the perpetrator. Donnelly then shot himself, but survived and was apprehended by police.[7]

On 16 March an empty train was severely damaged by a bomb at Wood Green station. The train was about to pick up fans from an Arsenal football match, but the bomb detonated prior to arriving at the station, injuring one passenger standing on the platform. Three men were sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for this attack.[8]

1991 attacks[edit]

On 29 August three incendiary devices were found under a seat at Hammersmith depot.[9]

On 23 December two IRA bombs exploded, one on a train at Harrow-on-the-Hill station causing no injuries, and a smaller one on a train at Neasden depot.

1992 attacks[edit]

In 1992 the IRA placed incendiary devices on several trains. At Elephant & Castle station and Neasden station devices were found and defused. One device went off at Barking station.

On 9 October, a small bomb was planted under a car at the Arnos Grove station car park. No-one was injured.

On 9 December, a van bomb partially detonated at the car park of Woodside Park station. No-one was injured but it caused evacuations and disruptions.

1993 attacks[edit]

A device exploded at an underground passageway at South Kensington station on 3 February 1993.

On 20 December, a device exploded in a litter bin in Northfields station.

On 21 December, coded bomb warnings from the IRA resulted in a paralysed London Underground system, as tens of thousands were evacuated from 100 tube stations during the morning rush hour.

2005 terrorist bomb attacks[edit]

In 2005 two groups of Islamist extremists attacked a number of underground lines and bus routes in London.

7 July[edit]

On 7 July 2005, bombs exploded on Underground trains between Aldgate and Liverpool Street stations, Russell Square and King's Cross St. Pancras stations and Edgware Road and Paddington stations. A double-decker bus at Tavistock Square was also destroyed. The bombs were detonated by four homegrown terrorist suicide bombers. The explosions killed 52 people and resulted in over 700 injuries.

21 July[edit]

Four more attacks, unconnected with those on 7 July, were attempted on 21 July 2005 at Shepherd's Bush Market, Warren Street and Oval stations, as well as on a bus in Bethnal Green. In these incidents, each bomb detonator fired, but did not ignite the main explosive charge. No injuries occurred as a result of this event.

20 October 2016 attempted bombing[edit]

Police conducted a controlled explosion on a device at North Greenwich station, after a driver on the Jubilee line became suspicious of a bag he had been handed as lost property which he found contained wires and a clock.[10] A Metropolitan Police spokesman said the device looked "real enough".[11] The station was evacuated and closed while delays affected the Jubilee line.[12]

On 21 October 2016, armed officers tasered and arrested Damon Smith, then aged 19, in relation to the incident.[13] He was found to be interested in the Qu’ran, and it was initially suggested he acted under Islamist motivations, as he had drawn on information contained in a magazine associated with Al-Qaeda to make the device, but no evidence was found. He said he was against extremism.[14] It would, however, have been a "viable device" if it had been assembled with only small modifications.[15] On 3 May 2017, Smith was convicted of making or possessing an explosive substance with intent to endanger life. Smith claimed that he had intended only to commit a hoax and for the device not to be dangerous.[14] He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment later in the month.[16]

15 September 2017 Parsons Green Bombing[edit]

On 15 September 2017, an improvised explosive was detonated at the Parsons Green station at around 8:20 am. The homemade bomb produced what witnesses called a "wall of fire", resulting in 22 injuries, primarily burns.[17]

Ahmed Hassan was tried for attempted murder in March 2018.[18] He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment and must serve a minimum of 34 years.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Day, John R.; Reed, John (2010) [1963]. The Story of London's Underground (11th ed.). Capital Transport. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-85414-341-9.
  2. ^ Porter, Bernard (1991). The origins of the vigilant state: the London Metropolitan Police Special Branch before the First World War. Boydell & Brewer. pp. 27–28.
  3. ^ "The Explosion on the Metropolitan Railway". The Times (35189). 28 April 1897. p. 12. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  4. ^ "The Explosion at Aldersgate-Street Station". The Times (35212). 25 May 1897. p. 15. Retrieved 11 August 2009.
  5. ^ Webb, Simon (2 July 2014). The Suffragette Bombers: Britain's Forgotten Terrorists. Pen and Sword. p. Chapter 7. ISBN 978-1-4738-3843-7.
  6. ^ Borrell, Clive; Parker, Robert (14 February 1976). "20 lb bomb defused in rush hour at London Tube station". The Times (59628). p. 1. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  7. ^ "On This Day: 15 March 1976: Tube driver shot dead". BBC News. 2007. Retrieved 26 August 2007.
  8. ^ Croome, Desmond F.; Jackson, Alan J. (1993). Rails Through the Clay (2nd ed.). Capital Transport Publishing. p. 537. ISBN 1-85414-151-1.
  9. ^ "Terrorist Incidents". Hansard. 4 March 1996. Written Answers cc51-62W. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  10. ^ Topham, Gwyn; Dodd, Vikram (21 October 2016). "North Greenwich tube station terror alert sparked by bag of wires". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  11. ^ "Tube train device controlled explosion at North Greenwich". BBC News. 20 October 2016. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  12. ^ Osborne, Samuel (20 October 2016). "North Greenwich station evacuated after suspicious package 'found on train near The O2'". The Independent. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  13. ^ Powell, Tom (26 October 2016). "Tube bomb suspect Damon Smith, 19, charged over North Greenwich explosives plot". Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  14. ^ a b Ross, Alice (3 May 2017). "Devon student guilty of planting homemade bomb on London tube". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  15. ^ "Damon Smith jailed for planting failed Tube bomb". BBC News. 26 May 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  16. ^ Gayle, Damien (26 May 2017). "Student sentenced to 15 years for planting bomb on London tube". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  17. ^ "London tube station explosion: Latest updates". The Independent. 15 September 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
  18. ^ Minelle, Bethany (7 March 2018). "Parsons Green accused Ahmed Hassan 'used school prize to buy bomb materials'". Sky News. Retrieved 10 March 2018.
  19. ^ Cobain, Ian (23 March 2018). "Parsons Green tube bomber Ahmed Hassan jailed for life". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 March 2018.