Tuesday, 21 July 2009

21/7 Shepherd's Bush attack

bomber"you'd better get off here", "get off now", "Ladies and Gents there seems to be some kind of security alert please get off this bus now" were the three announcements I remember on the 207 bus. We had pulled up just before the H&C tube next to the police station. We all knew what he was talking about and what the dozens of police frantically throwing up cordons and pushing people back up Uxbridge Road had to mean after the events of July 7th. You could smell the fear.

But not panic, if anything a morbid curiosity. I crossed through Shepherds Bush Market onto Goldhawk Road where, just a block away from where it was all happening there was no sense of what was happening so close by. Not even the helicopters overhead seemed to bother people. But then I got onto the Green. the "just one more" cafe had a big screen reporting a bomb attack at Oval. What did that have to do with what was happening here?

Noise. Police cars swerving around people at high speed driving across the Green itself to get to the tube station. More cordons. Journalists on mopeds screching to a halt and being ushered through the lines only to be stopped at the next one a few metres from the rest of us. More helicopters. More police. In short, paralysis.

Then the thirst for knowledge. What had happened? A long walk, my trip to the gym having been abandoned, back up Uxbridge Road. Stallholders from the market quietly, and with no panic, packing up their stalls and helping usher people away. Shop holders closing early and also joining in, asking how they could help. A community coming together. 

Police all the way up the road and a constant symphony of sirens that lasted for hours. Uxbridge Road closed for traffic further up so the only cars were police. It began to resemble a route from Carnival. Except the mood was anything but. 

Got home. 24/7 news coverage delivering very little actual news. And then the wait. This was the day, four years ago today, terrorism came to Shepherd's Bush.


  1. [...] of police frantically throwing up cordons and pushing people back up Uxbridge Road had to mean.Now read on. UK security and terrorismLondonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 | Use [...]

  2. Good piece. Minor quibble with the chronology in your first para: Menezes was shot on 22nd July, having been mistaken for one of the failed bombers of the day before.

  3. chrisunderwood21 July 2009 at 15:36

    Simon thanks - thats not a minor quibble but a major error! I guess it goes to show how things get frayed over time - thanks for pointing it out.

  4. Forgive me for not remembering - I was not in London at the time - was there an actual bomb or attempt made in Shepherds' Bush? Or was it just the police being (very understandably) over cautious at the time?

  5. chrisunderwood21 July 2009 at 18:03

    there very much was an attempt that only failed, as did the others, because the bombers didn't put their devices together properly. See more here from 2005


  6. [...] still only a few weeks since the commemorations of the 4 year anniversaries of both July 7th and 21st 2005. On a wander through London today I decided to stop by the memorial that was unveiled this year to [...]

  7. [...] came to Shepherd’s Bush once. Let’s hope it never does [...]