New Cross fire survivors promise to ‘leave a legacy’ on 42nd anniversary

The survivors and families of victims from the New Cross house fire which tragically took 13 lives in 1981 say they are determined to “leave a legacy” for them.

Today marks the 42nd anniversary of the fire at a 16th birthday party at 439 New Cross Road, which killed 13 young black people and was believed to be a racially-motivated attack, later sparking a National Black People’s Day of Action.

Those affected by the fire today gathered at Lewisham council’s Civic Suite in Catford to pay tribute to the lives that were lost.

Gary Collins, 52, was 10 years old when his brother Steve who ,had gone to the house party to play music, was killed in the fire.

“My brother was playing the sound system at the party,” said Gary. “I shared a room with my brother and the sound system was in our room.

“It was the Saturday night of the fire before he picked up the stuff. He said he’d see me tomorrow and never came back.

“The first thing I remember was my mum screaming in the front room and looking at BBC One saying there was a house fire in New Cross and knowing that my brother was at a party in New Cross.”

Gary is now the head of the New Cross Fire Foundation (NCFF), which aims to educate the next generation on the fire and its impact on the black community.

The foundation is working on a monument to those lost in the fire, which will be put up in Fordham Park, New Cross.

“At the NCFF, we’re here to create legacy,” he said. “And the legacy that we’re trying to create is through a sustainable monument and an educational programme for the community. 

“There’s a need now because all the old guard has passed away. It’s for the second generation, which is myself to kind of carry the torch.”

Pictured top: Survivors and family members of those lost in the New Cross house fire gather at the Civic Suite in Catford (Picture: Lewisham council)

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One thought on “New Cross fire survivors promise to ‘leave a legacy’ on 42nd anniversary

  • Robert Ruddock

    Oh really!
    Get your facts right! Probably want to speck to the actual family and survivors struggling to move on. Oh yes it’s great to form a group in the name of the fire but no.
    It’s extremely hurtful for you to report without making the basic effort to engage with the living survivors
    I’m sick of hearing about the hired help and their story. Yes I’m deeply saddened by Garry’s loss but what about the other 13 .
    Why don’t you use you skills and professionalism to actually reach out to the damaged survivors and give them a voice.
    I will add that was my house, my family and my friends that lost their lives or suffered unspeakable injuries. Nothing to do the Garry Colin’s I’m afraid to say


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